Distinct professions of solicitor and barrister

Describe recent changes to the legal profession and comment on the suggestion that it is no longer necessary for their to be two distinct professions of solicitor and barrister? During the last 12-15 years there have been many changes to the legal profession: solicitors lost their monopoly over conveyancing in the Administration of Justice Act. But under the Courts and legal services Act they obtained higher court right of audience as solicitor advocates and there are now over 1,00 of these.

Other changes include solicitors becoming High Court Judges and the growth of large, even multinational firms of solicitors, which has led to increasing specialisation within law firms. Barristers too have seen many changes within their profession, they can now advertise their services, and professional clients can consult directly with barristers. Because of such changes especially the opportunity for solicitors to advocate in the higher courts and to become senior judges, the question has been raised as to whether it is necessary to have two quite separate branches of the legal profession.

Britain is the only developed country in which there are two different professions. A comparison with a legal profession. If one is ill, one goes to see a GP. Only if the GP considers there is something seriously wrong will we be referred to a hospital consultant. The situation is the same with the legal profession. For most of us we only use a solicitor when buying a house, making a will, checking a contract, or setting up a company.

It is very rare for such administrative tasks to require a referral to a specialist barrister If a decision is taken by a client to pursue or defend the case in court, the solicitor will instruct a barrister or a solicitor advocate to represent the client in court. In such circumstances, it is necessary also to appreciate that while the barrister may be the courtroom specialist advocate, the solicitor too, is the specialist. The process of litigation has to involve both solicitors and barristers.

Given that most peoples legal problems can be and are dealt with successfully by solicitors, and that on the relatively rare occasions where court action is necessary both office based and court based lawyers are used, it seems arguable that the public interest is best served by having two sets of lawyers. MAGISTRATES Outline the jurisdiction of magistrates and consider the advantages and disadvantages of magistrates within the English Legal System? Magistrates play by far the largest role in the criminal justice system, as they try about 97% of all criminal trials.

Magistrates also try most offences committed by young offenders in the youth court. The only offence which cannot be tried here is murder Magistrates other responsibilities include the following: the family court, adoption orders and proceedings under the Children Act 1989; The licensing court- for the sale and consumption of alcohol, and for betting and gaming establishments, debt enforcement, council tax. Magistrates have historically been an important part of the criminal justice system. For more than one thousand years and they enable members of the community to become involved in the administration of criminal justice.

They are the most respectable type of judges-unlike our professional judiciary, almost fifty percent are women, with almost seven percent drawn from ethnic minorities. They also provide local justice as they have to live within fifty mile radius of their bench; this gives them a greater awareness of local events and local patterns of crime. Because they are unpaid, magistrates courts are the only profit making component of the criminal justice system as a value of fines exceeds the overall costs of these courts. They are also much quicker in bringing cases to trial than is the case with crown courts, where delays up to a year is uncommon.

The most significant disadvantage of magistrates is the serious level of inconsistency in there sentencing. Surveys continue to show that some benches are ten times more likely to impose custodial sentences than neighbouring benches. This is clearly unfair-Simple justice demands that similar offenders receive broadly similar sentences. It is also argufied that because magistrates are not legally qualified, this justice is amateur justice. This fails to take into consideration the fact that magistrates are now selected far more carefully and receive much more detailed training than was the case several years ago.

The overall success of magistrates court is however, confirmed by the very low success rate of appeals against both sentence and conviction. Describe how magistrates are appointed? In order to become a magistrate a person can either apply to the local advisory committee, which exists for every bench, or be nominated by local political parties or voluntary bodies. The statutory qualifications are that the applicant must be up to the age of 65 and live in a fifty mile radius of the court in which she or he will be working.

There is no statutory minimal age the past and present lord chancellors have made it clear that they will not appoint any one under the age of 27. Successful candidates are required to spend an average of half a day per week sitting in court . The current procedure for selection and appointment contained within the Justice and the peace act 1979, categories of people who are excluded from appointment include police officers, members of the armed forces un discharged bankrupts and those who have a serious criminal record.

After application or nomination, references are checked, as is the persons criminal record. A short list is drawn up by the committee and two interviews are held: The first measures the candidates general character; the second, which comprises the number judging and sentencing exercises, assesses the candidates judgement. After all the candidates have been interviewed, the committee meets to consider the various issues of balance as regards gender.

The lord chancellor has made it clear that he requires broadly equal numbers of men and women, occupation and ethnic origin. The committee will finally recommend names to the lord chancellor, who usually accepts these recommendations and will formally appoint these magistrates. At the conclusion of the selection and appointment procedure, successful candidates will be formerly sworn in as magistrates at a ceremony conducted by senior circuit judge. Before sitting in court, newly appointed magistrates are required to attend a training and mentoring programme.