The death of a profession?
I am sitting in the café at Sheffield Magistrates Court with fellow solicitors, waiting for my case to be called. There are eight of us squeezed around a table built for four. The topic of conversation turns to the Government’s cuts to criminal legal aid.
It’s a conversation I have heard and had countless times, in every court I have stepped foot in since qualifying as a solicitor in April 2013. The only thing that has changed is the steadily growing concern on my colleagues’ faces as it has become increasingly clear that this Government is not for turning.
We’re talking about the impact of the cuts on our profession. One colleague feels most sorry for people like me: lawyers who have recently qualified into an area of law that is fast becoming financially unviable. Another disagrees. He says that I can at least change career with relative ease. He’s been in criminal law for decades. He knows nothing else and would have difficulty convincing himself, let alone a potential employer, that he could do something different. And he’s not alone. In the past year, I’ve heard experienced criminal defence lawyers talk semi-seriously about taking jobs in supermarkets. Virtually all those that I’ve spoken to are, at the very least, seriously considering alternative careers. Many are actively seeking ways out of the profession and those that are sufficiently close to retirement have already started to leave… continue…