Constitutional Affairs

If a person wants a profession in the legal system it is wise for them to do A' level in law which takes two years. To become a solicitor it is usual to have a law degree which will take three years. The next stage is the one year legal practice course. This is much more practically based than the previous law society finals course and includes training in skills such as client interviewing, negotiation, advocacy, drafting documents and legal research. Even when this course has been passed.

The student is still not a qualified as a solicitor. They must next obtain a training contract under which they work in a solicitor's firm for two years getting practical experience. During this two year training contract the trainee will be paid, though not at the same rate as a fully qualified solicitor, the trainee will be supervised at all time. They will also have to complete a 20 day professional's skills course which builds up on the skills learnt on the LPC (legal practice course).

At the end of the two years the trainee will be admitted as a solicitor by the law society and their name will be added to the roll (list) of solicitors. Even after qualifying a solicitor has to attend continuing education course to keep their knowledge up to date. b) Outline the work of both barristers and solicitors and discuss how they can be held responsible for poor work. Solicitors The type of work done by a solicitor will depend on the type of firm they are working in.

a small high street firm will probably be a general practice advising clients on a whole range of topics such as consumer problems, housing, business matters and family troubles. A solicitor working in such a practice is likely to spend some of their time interviewing clients in their and negotiating on their behalf, and a large amount of time dealing with paperwork. This includes writing letters on behalf of clients, drafting contracts, leases or other legal documents and drawing up wills.

A solicitor may also, if they wish, act for some of their clients in court, standing up in court and putting the client's case and questioning witnesses this is known as advocacy. A solicitor deals directly with clients and enters into a contract with them. This means that if client does not pay the fee of the work the solicitor has the right to sue for his fees. It also means that the client can sue the solicitor for breach of contract if the solicitor fails to do the work. The client can also sue the solicitor for negligence in and out of court work.

This happened in Griffith's v Dawson case in 1993 where solicitors for the plaintiff had failed to make the correct application in divorce proceedings against her husband. As a result the plaintiff lost financially and the solicitors were ordered to pay her 21,000 pounds in compensation. Barristers Barristers practicing at the bar are self employed, but usually work from a set of chambers where they can share administrative expenses with other barristers. Most sets of chambers are fairly small comprising of about 15 to 20 barristers.

They will employ a clerk as a practice administrator, booking in cases and negotiating fees and they will have other support staff. The majority of barristers will concentrate on advocacy, although there are some who specialize in areas such as tax and company law, and who rarely appear in court. Barristers have rights of audience in all courts in England and Wales. Even those who specialize in advocacy will do a certain amount of paperwork, writing opinions on cases, giving advice and drafting documents for use in court.

Clients cannot, as a general rule go direct to a barrister but must use a solicitor who will then brief a barrister if it becomes necessary. A barrister does not enter into a contract with his client and so cannot sue if his fees are not paid. Similarly, the client cannot sue breach of contract, nor can they sue for professional negligence in respect of work done in court. There are comparatively few complaints against barristers and the Ombudsman has found that the Bar Council handles 90 per cent of complaints satisfactorily. a) How are lay magistrates selected and appointed?

The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor appoints magistrates on the advice of local Advisory Committees (although in the case of Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, appointments are made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster). Those interested in appointment, will be asked to complete an application form and the Advisory Committee may then invite the candidate to one or possible two interviews to discuss the duties of a magistrate, their views on crime and punishment, and what qualities an individual might bring to the magistracy.

It is important that Benches should, as far as possible, reflect the communities they serve and each year Advisory Committees look at the needs of Benches, not only in terms of the numbers required, but also in terms of maintaining a balance of gender, ethnic origin, where people live, occupation, age and social background. Not everyone who applies will be interviewed, not everyone who is interviewed will be appointed. According to an official handout from the Lord Chancellor's Department, the key qualities required in those applying to be magistrates are as follows:

Good character: Personal integrity, respect and trust of others, respect for confidences – absence of any matter which might bring them or the Magistracy into disrepute, willingness to be circumspect in private, working and public life. Understanding and communication: Ability to understand documents identifies and comprehends relevant facts, and follow evidence and arguments, ability to concentrate, ability to communicate effectively.

Social awareness: Appreciation and acceptance of the rule of law, understanding of the local communities and society in general, respect for people from different ethnic, cultural or social backgrounds, experience of life beyond family, friends and work. Maturity and sound temperament: Ability to relate to and work with others, regard for the views of others – willingness to consider advice, maturity, humanity, courage, firmness, decisiveness confidence, a sense of fairness, courtesy.

Sound judgment: Common sense, ability to think logically, weigh arguments and reach a balanced decision, openness of mind, objectivity, the recognition and setting aside of prejudices. Commitment and reliability: Reliability, commitment to serve the community, willingness to undertake at least 26 and up to 35 half day siftings a year, willingness to undertake the required training, ability to offer requisite time, support of family and employer, sufficiently good health.