When two tribes go to war…

The legal profession as a whole faces competition from the so-called Tesco Law providers; but closer to home, and very much an issue of the present,  is the ‘war’ going on between the two main branches of the legal profession – The Bar and Solicitor-advocates.

First, it was Judge Gledhill expressing robust disapproval (at an impromptu press conference at the end of a case ) about the way solicitor-advocates had conducted themselves.  Paul Marsh, president of  The Law Society, objected.  Then it was Lady Justice Janet Smith, president of the Council of The Inns of Court, writing to resident judges seeking evidence about the quality of work done by Solicitor higher-court advocates (HCAs).

Lady Justice Janet Smith has now ‘taken the unusual step’ of withdrawing her letter.

The Law Society Gazette reports:

“Smith’s climbdown came after the Society complained to the Lord Chief Justice about the letter. Chancery Lane shared the concern of solicitor-advocates that the letter ‘appeared to demonstrate a bias against solicitor-advocates and employed lawyers, and to support the campaign against these advocates by the self-employed criminal bar’.”

It appears the Lord Judge, The Lord Chief Justice, was able to resolve The Law Society’s concerns;  allowing Paul Marsh to state “I hope that we can now work with the bar and the judiciary to achieve a consensus about advocacy standards across the board.

Setting aside the obvious issue about quality (an issue of education and training) and the premise that advocates, be they barristers or solicitors,  will not take work on outside their experience and competency – we are left with, possibly, a single difference between the solicitor or employed barrister and the barrister – that of independence.  A barrister in practice at the bar is not employed, he or she is not beholden to a firm, corporate or organisational policy.  The duty is to represent the client.  The same should, of course, be true for solicitor advocates and the employed barrister.

There is an issue which I would be most interested in hearing from practitioners on: To what extent is a solicitor advocate, employed within a firm, influenced in the performance of their role by management or firm culture when they act  as advocates?  Is this a different influence from the barrister working to the brief of an instructing firm? – or are all barristers truly independent in being able to ignore the influence of further work from that instructing client?  Putting it another way, is the independence of the independent bar true independence and does it matter provided the barrister conducts the case in accordance with the code of ethics of his or her chosen profession and within the rules of law and procedure?

There may well be more solicitor-advocates soon.

I haven’t looked at the precise figures, but there has been a significant rise in the number of solicitor-advocates gaining higher rights of audience in recent years.  This is likely to increase rapidly now, in my view, for three reasons:

(1) Training at the LPC and Bar stage is providing young lawyers with the opportunity to develop and hone advocacy skills.  This can be followed up by specialist advocacy training available in the open law training market. To all intents and purposes, training and early experience can equalize the skills of the solicitor-advocate and barrister in time.

(2) The solicitor-advocate scheme has been a success.  The Law Society Gazette refers to thousands of Solicitor HCAs and,  do not forget the Crown Prosecution Service advocates.  New entrants to the solicitor side of the profession – possibly former prospective barristers or those who would have enjoyed a career at the bar – may well qualify as solicitors instead to become advocates, given rights of audience,  secure in the knowledge that they will be paid well, on time and at a reasonably sensible level.  There is also employment security, backed up by law for those employed solicitors and barristers.

(3) Increasingly, particularly the big regional firms, are building advocacy teams.  This is likely to spread down the scale to medium and smeller sized firms. The independent bar is roughtly 1/10th of the size of the profession give or take.  If law firms see money and control in advocacy, and not just criminal advocacy, it will not be long before they act effectively to build internal teams and, whatever emollient words are used to allay the fears of the bar, they will, as sure as the sun sets at night, gradually rely more on their own internal controllable resources and less on the independent bar.

We have seen how City, Commercial and large regional firms rely less and less on counsel’s opinion pro rated to modern work volumes in all areas of  law – simply because the solcitors side of the profession is now attracting the very best young lawyers because of the rewards on offer.  The days when the bright inevitably went to the bar seem to be over?

We could see a situation in ten years where there are 25,000 or more solicitor-advocates – dwarfing the independent bar.  If this happens how can independent men and women at the bar hope to compete with the corporatised and conglomerate law firms?  They just won’t have the resources.

It is possible, in time, thinking the unthinkable (which is quite fashionable these days),  that the Bar could become an irrelevance to the thrusting modern law firms and PLCs waiting in the wings to take their pick from a multi-billion pound industry.  I call the legal world an industry, rather than the more prosaic ‘sector’ or ‘profession’, because it is, in essence, no more than a provider of a service and therein lies the danger.  The thinking of the independent barrister may be quite different and suited to the needs of a gentler  more ‘vocational time’ – from the thinking of a Chief Executive of a law firm or PLC used to the harder ways of commerce and global business.

The Criminal Bar is certainly worried enough to establish a working group and raise the spectre of unfair competition from solicitor-advocates.  The Bar’s monopoly on advocacy has been broken.  Maybe the entire bar needs to look into the future.  Some already are and what they see looks good, I am told.  And, of course, there is always the prospect of  very high earnings within a law firm or PLC  for those who do not wish to wait for the meteor to hit the legal world.

A fable… but not from Aesop…

Twelve years ago a small law school effectively broke the monopoly on legal education at vocational level when it became the first private college to be accredited to run the LPC and the Bar.,  I know.  I was there.  I was the CEO then.  I enjoyed being involved in the establishment of a company that broke the monopoly.  I am, it has to be said, less good and less interested in running things once they are set up and others took it on to what it has become today. BPP Law School is now the fastest growing law school in the country with a private sector mentality driven by shareholders and the markets. They may even be bought up by an even bigger, more corporate entity – American or British – that is inevitable in time and may happen sooner rather than later. Here endeth the lesson/fable/metaphor/analogy… call it whatever you will.

We are already seeing law firms behaving more corporately, using business techniques, thinking globally, thinking strategically, employing specialists and bringing them in as partners as they are now permitted to do.  Law firms are beginning to float on stock exchanges.  It won’t be long before the legal profession in this country undergoes major change – not ‘Big Bang’ but more akin to a meteorite hitting the earth.  Who will be the new rulers of the legal world?  I don’t think it will be the independent bar. I think it will be the global law firms and their smaller brethren – the regional firms or associations of law firms.  And yes… Tesco and others will be right in there calling the shots, as indeed will the big client corporates who devour legal advice and services.

OK – let’s stir it up a bit.  I’m not a practitioner.  I have not practised in your world.  I am a mere observer and commentator who keeps his eyes and ears open.  They are still open.  Let’s hear what you think.  I may like to predict, but this is a technique.  I am not Nostradamus.  I am keen to learn what the future holds.

***

Oh… and finally…. I agree with Lord Judge – we need more solicitor judges…  a lot more… to reflect the interests, culture, emotions and philosophy of our nation.  There is a lot of  skill, intellect and ability in the the other side of the profession… maybe we could have some of it in the judiciary?  Maybe we could do a bit more thinking the unthinkable and bring some clever men and women from our universities into the appellate judiciary or the Supreme Court?  Perhaps that may take a bit of time – but I, for one, would like to see it.

Well.. that should get you coughing into your conflakes this morning.  Over to you.

27 thoughts on “When two tribes go to war…

  1. What about something really radical, really out of the box, like having judges who are experts in a field (and by that I mean members of the public who have the intellect to assimilate procedure) and who bring real working and ongoing expertise of a profession, like accountancy or medicine to the table?

    As a little green thing, the idea may be green too but if we had a huge workforce out there that undertook judicial work with backgrounds in fields the law continues to brush up against, would this not make judgments faster, more acute and higher quality?

    Here is my mini fable: A panel of three judges presiding over a family case. We may assume for the purpose of the tale that all three are very bright, fine and upright citizens (yes, that last bit may be asking a bit much, but please roll with it :) )One judge has been a good GP for 15 years, one has been a social worker at the highest level and the last was a family lawyer for many years.

    We will also have to assume that these judges are grounded human beings with a good sense of the rational and pragmatic with a keen desire to serve the parties and not their pockets (yes, yes, this is fast turning into a myth, but please don’t spoil my fun just yet!). Combined with their knowledge of law and procedure, they assimilate evidence, critique submissions and find the flaws in argument with ease. A case that might take ten weeks, only takes two. Money and time is saved. Justice is better served.

    Why not?

  2. Not sure of the point you’re making re independence.

    Are you suggesting that a solicitor advocate will be more influenced by a firms desire to make profit than a barrister would be to pay his/her bills?

  3. PI Blog: Barristers often quote ‘independence’ as the hallmark of the independent barrister – as a quality mark, almost.

    I am asking for views on what independence really is – is it real, is it a phantasm. Is a barrister really more independent than an employed solicitor-advocate. Surely both barrister and solicitor-advocate would exercise the same professional ethic and skill in handling the case for the client whatever their employment status?

    I don’t know – what is the reality? This would be interesting to find out.

    Thank you for taking time to write.

  4. Ah, your post cheers me up as I take a break from cramming for my BPP law school crime exam tomorrow. I can’t afford the risk of the BVC, but would very much like to become a solicitor-advocate (not a solicitor-incompetent, as I gather they are called). I hope your predictions turn out to be true!

  5. On the independence point: I think anyone whose has worked for an overweening boss will know just how truly hollow ‘Independence’ will be when one’s annual bonus, billable hours targets or even job are on the line. This is the reality of most solicitors firms. It would take a strong soul endure nagging and “he’s not a ‘team player’” jibes.

    I have worked in such places.

    Sure if one had a very weak practice the desire to provide a good service to a solicitor might lead to excessive ‘flexibility’ but even the most impecunious barristers will understand that telling instructing solicitors what they want to hear and acting accordingly is unlikely to engender respect and further instructions (particularly if as a result of flexibility a case is pursued which goes tits-up).
    Equally many barristers in that situation are, unlike Solicitor-Inadequates, at least able to market themselves to other solicitors, other professions or the public.

    Furthermore a point not addressed in this post is one of temperament: There will always be an independent Bar (in whatever size and form it may take) because there will always be lawyers who wish to be self-employed and because there will always be professional and lay clients who appreciate true, rather than illusory, independence and the cost effective structure of such an institution.

  6. Geeklawyer: GL – agree. Temperament is important in all walks of life. There will always be the specialist provider – who delivers a service at a high level, delivering high quality work – simply because they do the business.

    Cream rises to the top in every sphere. the legal profession can claim no exemption from the laws of science and the soul of mankind!

    Good additional contribution – temperament is important – and this is a matter of choice. Choice will always be there – but I fear that it will be a harder legal world in 20 years forward than it was 30 years past.

    This is not a bad thing – for those who make it and for those who use their services. That, of course, is the mantra of the Bar to some extent and scale is, for many, not an issue.

    It is a fascinating time to be a lawyer in – i would have thought – and it is fascinating to me as an Observer. I have no agenda. I merely observe, comment and ask questions.

    As ever… the person who answers is the star… never the interviewer or questioner – and that, I have taken from a very good barrister friend of mine who practises his art (as he calls it) with style and very effectively. he remains nameless – that is his right and his way.

  7. I am glad to have been invited to share my view of this very well writen opinion but not sure to be enough qualified to judge the situation.
    As a French Lawyer, my knowledge of the British legal system is still very theoretic and necessarily in comparison with what I have experienced in France.
    As you probably know we have abandoned the division between the two professions (Avocats/ Avoues then later Avocat/Conseil Juridique) for some times and the movement has been through a ‘fusion des professions’. Therefore, I tend to believe this to be the way to go.
    Interestingly although the British approach is usually much more pragmatic than the french, the Judicial system, I have to confess, does not appear ‘efficient’ to my ‘outsider’ eyes. The real guarantee of autonomy and impartiality is conditional to the economic independence, Barrister or Solicitor.
    My main objection is the high cost of the Justice in this country and the importance given to human witness that I have been ‘trained’ to be very sceptical about. Not only on the highly subjective value of such a human testimony but also it’s extra cost and time consuming effect. This even more as facts are only examined once and that the Court of Appeal would strictly judge in Law.
    Hope my French view would be of any help.

  8. The ultimate shibboleth–independence. What does it mean? Lets deconstruct this a bit. There are a small proportion of practitioners who can be called independent, but the vast majority are not. Regardless of whether they are barristers or solicitors.

    Law firms set targets for their partners and associates. If they don’t meet them, they will be shown the door. We only have to look at the numbers of partners being de-equitized. Combine that with the growth in non-equity partners and we clearly see that these lawyers are part of a corporate culture that determines what they do, how they do it, and what the expected returns are as well. Equity partners are a shrinking group mainly to preserve profits.

    Chambers are also corporate. Plenty of them now set similar targets for their members. True the employment status is different but the results will effectively be the same. Some chambers have dispossessed themselves of entire practice areas in order to consolidate their business models.

    This will only intensify as the reforms under the Legal Services Act gather pace. The golden age of practice for most lawyers was in the 20th century. It is disappearing. If as a lawyer you work for a specialized set of clients and paymasters then what you do will be determined externally and not by your choice. It could be the Legal Services Commission; it could be a trade union; it could be an insurance company; and so on. Legal practice is now dominated by third parties who shape the relationship between lawyer and client–by setting limits on what legal expenditures can be. This is a drive–with the complicity of the state–towards settlement. One result is that courts reduce their caseload and more disputes are shifted to private dispute resolvers, eg. mediation, arbitration, etc.

    One outcome will have to be that lawyers as a group will have to think more strategically about how they want legal practice to go. And frankly petty bickering about whether it’s a solicitor-advocate or a barrister representing someone is neither here nor there. The Bar will have to realise it has lost its monopoly. Nor will it be able to reclaim it. After all what was its monopoly based on? A spurious claim to specialising in advocacy? This isn’t sufficient justification any more.

    When I did my research on solicitor-advocates in the late 1990s, I was appalled at the prejudice shown by the Bar and judges towards solicitor-advocates. Instead of trying to accommodate them and work together, the Bar sought to protect its turf. No one wins that kind of turf war.

    Now that the government has firmly latched on to consumer choice as its central tenet here, the Bar will have to devise a method of collaboration or it will wither.

    If the changes predicted under the LSA come about we can expect to see roughly a 1000 solicitors’ firms go and also a great number of chambers will die along with them. As much as people may not like Tesco, they have great quality control and can probably offer good, dependable, cheaper legal services in ways that make consumers feel reasonably good about spending money on them. And lets face it you will get clubcard points too!

    The legal profession can’t win this one–ever. So start working with it.

  9. I think it is fair to say that the notion of independence of in the professional classes is long gone. There was a time when professionals, in law and other fields, were expected to be legally and professionally accountable for their activities. To this end, the traditional, smaller unlimited liability partnership model had a lot to recommend it, together with the concept of new entrants being articled on a personal basis to a named person. (As best I know, only the Bar now preserves this tradition with its pupil masters).

    In my time, the larger professional firms have succeeded in jettisoning the old model through their their influence over government and professional bodies, but inspired only be their own short term interests. The introduction into English law of the LLP was, to my mind, the final nail in the coffin of the old school advantages which the professions could rely upon to distinguish and protect their positions. The recent “pre-pack” of Hextalls would have been unthinkable only a decade ago.

    What we have now is the worst of all worlds. Professionals now hold themselves not as being professionals in the traditional sense, but as ordinary commercial enterprises. Yet, most of the larger firms are run by people with big egos but very little commercial acumen and they are presiding over operations which would be exposed as being laughably bad if assessed by the criteria applied to equivalent sized businesses in the ordinary commercial world.

    There are a number of issues which are point towards a perfect storm at some poiint in the next 5 to 10 years:

    The legal aid reforms.

    The poor financial state of many (not just the solicitor firms, the junior end of the Bar is not in good shape either).

    Poor management.

    The “too niche, too early” education of younger professionals, who have been trained primarily to suit the short term commercial demands of their employers.

    The top heavy equity composition of firms, with baby boomer generation coming up for retirement.

    The Legal Services Act.

    It points towards fusion and a huge culling of numbers. The best, by whatever practising title, will survive and flourish, the rest will leave the profession for good.

    Given that the Bar seems intent on being inept, out moded and removed from the real world, it is unlikely that it will survive in any recognisable form. And all the more so when the Bar has presided over an education policy for a number of recent years which trains large numbers of aspirant advocates and then has no room for them to practise, duh.

    A niche, senior criminal law oriented Bar might survive for a couple of decades whilst the older generations serve out their working lives but it is not difficult to see that the generations behind them will be found in solicitor firms.

    My guess is that, when the dust settles, there will be less lawyers overall. What is left will be represented by more firms, by number, but with there being many more boutique sized specialist outfits. Lawyers will be all be just lawyers but will have personal licences, for reserved or specialist activities.

    The more clued up barrister chambers will step away from the referral model, expand their direct and public licensing capability and, for all intents and purposes, turn themselves into upscale solicitor firms. The commercially astute will probably do very well in so far that they can benefit from having a lower cost base which will enable them to pitch to the client bases of inefficient solicitor firms.

  10. My thinking is that loss of independence of the professions and professionals therein is one of the reasons our politics have lost balance, or perhaps they are symptom not a cause.

    One different example: that there was an instant large jump in children taken into care when the Minister said “Houston, we have a problem”. My concern there is not that he should express concern, but that there should be such a reaction to a declaration from the centre. Any Minister should not be able to generate that reaction by a mere statement.

    So I’m keen for professional independence and reflection to exist as a part of civil society. And I’d suggest that that is against the trend.

    Moving back to the legal professions, I don’t want to undermine the possibility for “small” cases to be taken to the highest level to win important principles – whether that is the recent Heather Brooke actions for FoI, or previous cases fought on behalf of people who were wrongly-imprisoned, or discrimination and other cases. These seem to be fought, in general, by independent barristers.

    Therefore, my legal question is this: where these cases would fit into a “corporate” profession?

  11. @Matt Wardman makes an interesting point with respect to children being taken into care–symptom or cause? Legal aid figures show an astonishing rise following the introduction of the Children Act 1989. It became a money spinner for family lawyers and neatly replaced the legal reductions in divorce work.

    On attribute of lawyers generally is their ability to engage in “creative compliance”, as Doreen McBarnet puts it. Legislation is the beginning of an expansive process giving rise to new ideas and modes of exploitation (not in a pejorative sense). Government needs to undertake better risk analyses of proposed legislation and also stop knee-jerk legislating too. Unfortunately, I agree with Matt that high-profile cases will become less attractive to corporate providers of legal services. They will try to restrict themselves to routine matters.

    @clarinette: The fusion of avocats and conseils juridiques was the result of a battle which the avocats masterminded and won. It was a way of attempting to remove the English law firms based in Paris and La Defence who were conseils juridiques. For a while it gave French lawyers an advantage. Of course present EU rules on cross border practice are altering the dynamics of this now. I doubt the avocats would be able to do anything like this now.

  12. Charon,

    I am interested in the point you make about the use of counsel’s opinions in large commercial law firms.

    We have seen how City, Commercial and large regional firms rely less and less on counsel’s opinion pro rated to modern work volumes in all areas of law – simply because the solcitors side of the profession is now attracting the very best young lawyers because of the rewards on offer. The days when the bright inevitably went to the bar seem to be over?

    In my (admittedly limited, and vicarious) experience of seeking opinion from counsel, the motivation for doing so is not because counsel is brighter than the instructing solicitor. Rather, it is recognition that counsel has a different view of the law informed by immersion in the court system. As most litigation is settled without judicial intervention, solicitors (and even solicitor-advocates) are likely to have less insight into how a dispute will actually be resolved by a judge. For non-contentious or transactional lawyers, their litigation colleagues (albeit bright) will almost invariably defer to the strategic and practical view of a knotty legal issue that counsel can provide.

    One can be critical of the almost cosy relationship between counsel and the judiciary, but in this instance I think it can bring real value for clients — they and their advisors can make properly informed decisions about the progress of their case or about whether they press for a particular form of contractual wording.

  13. @Mark Gould: Another reason for using counsel’s opinion is for risk management purposes–it provides an insurance policy for the law firm. It’s not cast iron but reasonably effective.

    @Anon is on the right wavelength regarding the way the legal profession will go. It will shrink because it won’t be able to compete with suppliers like Tescos. The advantage a company like this has over ordinary law firms is superior quality control (they won’t sell rubbish because consumers can easily switch suppliers), and the ability to cross-sell services in packages that make sense to consumers.

    For every one of you that has a Tescos loyalty clubcard, you have given Tesco a slice of your life, irrevocably. They know your post code, they know your buying habits, and more. Dunhumby, the company that ran the clubcard, was able to prove to Tescos Chairman that they could learn more about customers in 3 months than he knew in 30 years–very much to his surprise.

    So here we have a company that knows what you eat, where you bank, what property you own, when you go on holiday, and even when you are pregnant: all from things you buy. They are already selling financial services, medical services, so legal services are a natural bolt-on. Just imagine when Ms X comes through the checkout looking unhappy, the cashier could tell her about the specials they have that month on family law. No High Street solicitor or small barristers’ chambers will be able to compete with that.

  14. John Flood: I can confirm the Dunhumby point. A friend of mine used to be a senior man with them and was on the Tesco account. He told me about the Card – I stress, nothing not already known in the market – but that it was a very useful marketing tool.

    Corporate structures, techniques, management expertise, computer systems, marketing budgets and global reach will have a major impact should any of the big PLCs get involved.

    They are making coy noises at the moment – but it must happen.

    Ironically, on this day 22 May : 1826 – The HMS Beagle departs on its first voyage, carrying Charles Darwin .

    Will it be survival of the fittest? I think so.
    Interestingly, I spoke with four barrister friends of mine. They had barely a passing interest in or knowledge of the LSA et al and what is coming.

    If that is repeated across the bar – the end could be sooner than nigh.

  15. @charonqc: the level of informed opinion you discovered among your barrister friends is unfortunately widely true. And I think this is borne out by the low level of criticism aimed at the Legal Services Act by the Bar and the Law Society. Compared to the ruckus they made over Thatcher’s changes in the late 1980s (which were minor compared to this), there’s been very little debate.

    The Bar largely thinks that it won’t have any effect. Dream on!

  16. Charon,

    Who knows? If the best commercial barristers are poached by the magic circle solicitors, their dominance will increase. Major consolidation among solicitors may result.

  17. Anon.. thanks for the post..

    James C

    I have a friend (a Silk) who joined City law firm years ago – enjoys it.. I think we will see more of this…. but barristers who join law firms as partners take the partner shilling – and that is not a bad thing –

    I think the biggest change will come when the big PLCs in this country, Europe and USA come to play… except it will not be play – they will do it to the standards they do their other businesses to – and that, compared to the relative immaturity of business thinking in Law (I am told) – is very high.

    Lawyers will do well out of this change – but they won’t be operating in the same comfort zones or environment.

    It is quite possible that access to justice will be improved – it will certainly be cheaper for individuals… with bundled packages.

    Good lawyers are always going to be good lawyers – whatever environment they work in – just as accountants quite happily operate qua accountants and management in big corporates today.

    The future could be brighter than people think – sadly, I am unlikely to be part of it!

    Now there’s a thought.

  18. Charon,

    I would expect many more barristers to follow a similar path to your friend, if market forces are allowed to operate. It seems clear to me that the largest firms of solicitors will,if permitted, build in-house teams of in-house advocates. The pool of independent barristers will shrink and those solicitors who rely on it will be disadvantaged.

    Securing the best advocacy will become a real issue.

    As a consequence, one should expect consolidation and specialization among the medium-sized firms of solicitors, as their competitive position weakens.

    In the longer-term, as a new pool of solicitor advocates enters the market, these pressures are likely to diminish.

    One question, which is key, is how much money a top barrister might earn if he made the switch. It may be, that with the leverage of a partnership structure, that would be the more attractive option.

  19. The solicitor advocate thing really gained traction when changes in funding regulations chopped the legs off solicitors firms as regards attending on counsel in the Crown Court. They now get a flat fee whether they turn up or not – a bribe to do their job lazily and inadequately but it saves on administration costs for the government and is therefore a good thing for the sinisterly named Ministry of Justice and Treasury.

    Thus deprived of an income stream, they looked at the Carter rates and concluded that there was a nice little earner there and started recruiting HCAs of – erm – variable quality as an alternative income stream. There is no point of higher principle here – it’s all about money.

    Punters are, I have no doubt, not told that they may chose independent counsel if they wish as they are supposed to be. Johnny Serious Criminal gets this. I am told that a guy in custody awaiting trial sacked his solicitor for refusing to de-instruct an HCA allocated to him and then incited the occupants of Lewes Prison to do the same. It’s in respect of routine work that the independent bar misses out. The judiciary are pissed off about the HCA thing because they have to firefight crap advocacy at the coalface as it were but ‘change the rules so that criminals may be better defended’ is unlikely to commend itself to this government.

    Conclusions? Pessimistic, I’m afraid…
    1. The HCA thing will not go away but will continue to expand.
    2. The independent criminal bar will survive but in a sharply contracted form. A lot of people – and chambers – will give up the ghost.
    3. Standards of representation will suffer – at least in the shortish term.
    4. Given present economic discontents any Government is going to not only increase taxes but cut provision severely. Publicly funded criminal defence will inevitably become much less remnerative for whoever ends up doing it.

    Solution for this old criminal hack? Diversify and do as much private work as possible. May you live in interesting times…

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