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Striking barristers!

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Is crafty Clarke's Legal Aid bill fair?

Post by Mel on Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:39 am

Barristers earning fortunes from legal aid in high-profile criminal cases, whose fees he leaves untouched – and the work of social conscience lawyers, whose fees he is abolishing completely. Public interest lawyers earn very little in law centres and Citizens Advice bureaus, helping people lost in the legal wilderness of welfare, tenancies or working rights. As a result, law centres and CABs will close. This is surely unfair.
The Lords debated the legal aid bill which removes all legal support that ensures people at least get the benefits they are entitled to. Legal aid is abolished for "social" cases, even if people risk losing their homes and livelihoods, even if the Department for Work and Pensions blunders kick away crutches or leave cancer patients in the lurch. Maladministration sees 40% of appeals against disability benefit removal overturned, but there will be no legal help for any claimants' redress. Employers need worry less about regulations, now that their employees can get no legal aid to challenge unfair dismissal or harassment. Though evictions by private landlords have risen by 17%, the bill abolishes legal aid for tenants.

Tory policy protects ONLY the better off in this case, as in ALL others.

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Re: Striking barristers!

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:46 am

It's jolly unfair on those Barristers on a seven-figure income at the public expense.
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Re: Striking barristers!

Post by Mel on Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:26 pm

If for nothing else IMO it is very unfair on tenants who are to be evicted by unscrupulous landlords along with the closures of CAB's and law centres.

Protection for the poorest is being withdrawn at the delight of many who have plenty and will gain more by not being challenged for their evil doings.
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Re: Striking barristers!

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:19 pm

Barristers all belong to one of the Inns of Court, and of course Ken Clarke is a Barrister.

I'd like to be a fly on the wall next time he attends a Dinner at Gray's Inn. He'd better be accompanied by a poison-taster.
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Striking barristers!

Post by Chas Peeps on Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:32 am

First, I would like to emphasize that I fully support an effective and easily accessed Legal Aid system to ensure that a person's access to professional legal representation is not linked to their financial circumstances. I understand that the Legal Aid system has been under increasing attack from both Labour and Coalition Governments. My wife is a retired solicitor who did Legal Aided criminal cases so I do have some appreciation of the issues.
 
As with most professions, there is a wide range of income levels for different types of lawyer working in different areas of law and types of work. I am a Chartered professional myself and see the same variation in incomes within my own profession. My profession used to have a nationally agreed scale of fees for different categories of work which set a 'norm' for the practitioners and their clients and gave a reasonable safeguard against different professionals bidding against each other and taking on work for such a low fee that the quality of the advice or service to the client was below the required standard.  I am still extremely critical of the Office for Fair Trading which ruled that my profession's fee scales were against the public interest and anti-competitive. The fee scales were abolished which set professional against professional in a free-for-all dog-eat-dog world where practices were often driven to using lower and lower qualified and paid staff in order to minimise costs, which put the quality of service at risk.
 
All of that said, I cannot find an ounce of sympathy in me for lawyers who have gone on strike against a further reduction in the fees they earn through Legal Aid. Lawyers have been overpaid since the beginning of history and have jealously protected their position of privilege, using every possible means of influence over our nation's Parliament and Judiciary. The figure cited today is that the average income (before overheads) for a barrister working full time on Legal Aid work is £84,000 and a very small number are bringing in circa £500,000. I was self employed for six years until 2004 and never saw my income rise  to above 60% of the lower figure before overheads.
 
I used to be an expert witness on Landlord and Tenant cases and once had the sickening experience of visiting a barrister in chambers who clearly knew far less about that area of law than me, attempted to patronise me in our meeting, said his farewell and drove away in his new Ferrari.
 
The time has come for lawyers to join the same reality as the vast majority of other professionals who now have to work for salaries or incomes far below what they were before the start of the economic collapse. They should think themselves lucky that the Government is setting fees and hourly rates at a defined level at all. My profession does not have that benefit. We do not have a floor in our fee levels.
 
The one remaining profession that has so far benefited from the 'license to print money' is the medical profession (including dentists). They have a similar belief that they are somehow superior to other professional people who are qualified to way beyond degree level and subject to equally long courses of study and rigorous professional assessment before becoming qualified (e.g. Chartered Surveyors , Architects, Chartered Builders, Chartered Accountants, Civil Engineers etc.).
 
My only surprise in this matter is that the Coalition Government that I hate with a vengeance, which is typically infested with former middle / upper class lawyers, is driving this reform home so determinedly. Small wonder then that the ranks of well-heeled lawyers are up in arms. They are being betrayed by their own kind. No love lost there then.
 
Here is the acid test. When was the last time that you saw a barrister with an older or cheaper car than yours or a dentist in a house without a tennis court?
 
Solicitors and barristers should do a full mix of private and public funded work with the private fee income giving the cream and the public work the bread and butter.  They should be required to do Legal Aid work as part of their duty to the public and consider themselves fortunate that they work in such a well paid profession.
 
Methinks they protest too much.... Rolling Eyes
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Re: Striking barristers!

Post by buckspygmy on Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:41 am

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Re: Striking barristers!

Post by Ivan on Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:12 pm

Jerry Hayes was the Tory MP for Harlow from 1983 until 1997, after which he returned to practising criminal law. He doesn’t think barristers are overpaid (well he would say that, I guess), and in this blog he claims that some junior barristers have to make do with £12,000 a year gross:-
 
Is Chris Grayling a sociopath?
 
http://jerryhayes.co.uk/posts/2014/03/08/is-chris-grayling-a-sociopath
 
Apparently, the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths is that the latter have boundaries and tend to be achievers with qualifications and status.
 
Hayes claims that if Grayling’s ‘reforms’ go ahead, there will be just 556 firms of high street solicitors left, and that in their place will be “cut price corporate blood suckers offering a cheap, inexperienced service for the most serious of cases”.
 
One more step along the road to fascism, which is the merger of state and corporate power. What Hayes doesn’t tell us is whether or not he will be voting Tory next year.  Rolling Eyes
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Re: Striking barristers!

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:31 pm

The obvious question must be why the Legal Profession should have a first charge on the Public Purse.

Solicitors and Barristers stand in the same place as Accountants and Architects - they offer their services to the public at an agreed price.

For centuries, the legal profession has been brainwashing us into the belief that we are unable to resolve disputes without them.

But it's not true. The complications of The Law have been devised by Lawyers in order to preserve their livelihood.
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Re: Striking barristers!

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