The solicitor is the first point of contact with the general public. The larger the practice, the greater the level of specialisation of each solicitor. There are no requirements for a solicitor to offer a full range of legal services and criminal work in particular is becoming less and less popular. This initial role of a solicitor is to advice the client on his legal position and in the past this often involved applications for legal aid. For personal injury claims clients must now relay on conditional fees (No win, No fee) after the initial advice the solicitor will start the legal process.
This may be anything from writing a letter to a defence in the crown court or making a claim in the high court. As a general legal practitioner the traditional view is that the solicitor will now instruct a barrister who prepares the actual case to go to court. The solicitor takes the client to the barrister who will prepare a brief (a legal opinion) and will ultimately represent the client in court. The client instructs a solicitor who technically is involved with the case throughout its duration. The barrister is brought in at various stages and predominately at the end when the case goes to trial.
If a single lawyer dealt with all aspects of the case it would apparently cost less although the actual reduction over a two to three year period may not be significant against the total cost of the case. The bar council said that barristers have very low overheads and the 'new lawyers' would work in offices/practices and the overheads would be high, therefore a lawyer would be more expensive than a barrister. Any change in the cost as far as the public is concerned will be mainly felt in the civil courts where legal aid is now very limited. Guilty pleas in Sheffield Crown Court – 96% of cases had a 'new' barrister show up.
Non-guilty pleas 79% chance of a 'new' barrister showing up If we have a single lawyer who stays with the case right to the end it will be an advantage but the current system can not operate in this way. He will need to be time tabled. This will cost more money as the court will be empty on occasions. 4. Impact on law students Training to become a solicitor or barrister may start early in the law students university career. The options taken will determine entry into the bar council or law society. Research has shown that many students are not fully aware of the differences by the time they are expected to make these decisions.
A common training of lawyers would allow the students to specialise once they have sampled all the branches of law. 5. The contractual relationship between client an lawyer Under the current system the contract is between 'client and solicitor' and 'solicitor and barrister'. In the past this had created problems when clients claimed that the barrister had been negligent in representing them in court. In the case of Rondell v Worsley the HOL ruled that barristers could not be sued for negligence in court. In Arthur J. S. Hall v Simmons 2000 the HOL changed its opinion allowing barristers to be sued.
In the event of the single profession the situation will be further simplified as there could be no doubt of the contractual relationship between the client and his lawyer. Disadvantages of a single legal profession 1. Training The training will take longer and cost more money therefore it will discourage more people from entering and make the profession even more exclusive Bar council and law society have different training schemes. Each system believes it's the best and therefore parts of each need to be included. This will result in a messy system.
How long will it take to genuinely produce lawyers? About 5 years (in theory), but realistically 30 years. Ex-barristers and ex-solicitors will need to have retired before a genuine lawyer is produced. 2. Two heads are better than one A solicitor can't represent in the Crown but can be very valuable to the barrister. A solicitor should be able to take on any client because any solicitor has access to a barrister 3. Quality of Advocacy This will be decreased due to the fact that the 'new' lawyers will have no experience in courts, unlike a barrister who will have had at least 10 years court practice.
Magistrates In addition to lay magistrates we have full timers known as STIPENDIARY magistrates. Since the access to justice act 1999 their correct title is now DISTRICT JUDGES (magistrate's court). They are full time, and work for the Lord Chancellor. They where created in 1792 to try to stamp out corruption in lay magistrates. Qualification is an advocacy certificate (rights of access to all courts) and this must have been held for at least 7 years. Salary is i?? 80,000 and there are only about 100 of them. 60 are based in London and the rest are roaming.
A lay magistrate must live within 15 miles of his court. A stipendiary can sit on his own because of his qualification. Lay magistrates sit in 3's and cannot sentence on their own. 1 stipendiary can do the work of 36 lay magistrates. Lay magistrates have to work 26 half days per year (13 days) and there are about 30,000 of them. Lay magistrates where created in 1361 and can only sentence 6 months imprison and/or 5,000 fine (they can sentence two 6 month custodial sentences for multiple offences tried together) 95% of all criminal cases are dealt with by magistrates.
Lay magistrates require no qualifications The Lord Chancellor said they should be, "Of good character, understanding, communicational skills, social awareness, maturity, sound temperament, sound judgement, reliable, and committed". The traditional view therefore is that in both criminal and civil court barristers carry out the majority of advocacy. In practice 95% of criminal cases are heard in the magistrate's court all cases under 50,000 can be heard in the county court as a result solicitors in reality carry out the vast majority of court work in the English legal system.