A crime solicitor used to have a little bit of credibility about him/her, but in recent times it has almost become an embarrassment to be one. Rates for the work haven’t gone up in years, and currently a crime solicitor could earn more working the night shift at Asda stacking shelves than going to a police station to represent a client arrested on suspicion of murder.
A field to avoid if at all possible, unless hooked on adrenalin bursts, no sleep for weeks at a time, 18 hour working days for no recompense, or a strange desire to see that justice is done fairly.
A typical day of a crime solicitor involves going to the Magistrates Court for 9.15am to apply for bail for anyone held overnight in the cells, seeing them (often somewhat smelly having been in the police station and court cells for over 12 hours) and taking instructions, followed by a lengthy wait in the court for their case to come on.
At the same time dealing with any post in overnight (often CPS letters or results of other enquiries), and seeing other clients due in court the same morning for other cases. Dealing with all of them at once, and in any event by 12pm/1pm. The afternoons at larger firms are often spent running trials, which start at about 2pm, and can last as long as the magistrates want to sit for, which is usually until about 4.45pm.
After work the on call rota for the police station kicks in, and you can be then going to the police station on call for clients arrested in the mid afternoon (a popular arresting time for officers), and these callouts can end up going well into the evening and night.
The following morning you can be back at court repeating the whole thing all over again. If you cannot get about 6.5 billable hours out of the day, you will be struggling to make any money out of the work. It can be a very depressing existence. Nobody likes crime solicitors – not the police, your clients, the court or the general public (until they get arrested).
Pay is usually very poor. Starting salaries are about £22k up to £25k, and the rate for a 3 year PQE with duty solicitor status is currently around £30-35k.
Author: Jonathan Fagan MIRP MAC Cert RP LLM Solicitor (non-practising) – Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment (www.ten-percent.co.uk) – save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! Jonathan Fagan is a specialist legal recruitment consultant, author of the Complete Guide to Writing a Legal CV and the Guide to Interviews for Lawyers. He has recruited for law firms across the UK and overseas in all shapes and sizes. If you have any questions that we have not covered above, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org