The Legal Profession


                                      The Legal Profession
•   Barristers - Training, work Solicitors - Training, work
   Barristers governing body - The General Council of the Bar
   Solicitors governing body - The Law Society
   Complaints against Barristers and Solicitors
   The Legal Services Ombudsman
   Reform - Fusion of the two professions?
   Legal Personnel – Para-Legals: Legal Executives,Licensed Conveyancers; Crown
    Prosecution Service, Director of Public Prosecutions, Public Salaried Defenders.
 Advocacy - putting an argument forward in court on behalf of a client

 brief    - written instructions to a barrister from a solicitor relating to the
  representation of a client in legal proceedings

 Queen’s Counsel - senior barrister appointed on the recommendation of the Lord
  Chancellor. He wears a silk gown - hence the phrase to ‘take silk’

 right of audience – The right to appear and conduct proceedings in court

 benchers - The governing body of each of the Inns of Court. They are judges or
    senior members of the Bar and have the responsibility for discipline within the
-   The English Legal System by Jacqueline Martin P 193 -
-   AS Law by Varnstone & Sherratt P. 94 - 99
-   English Legal System by Elliott & Quinn P. 111 - 135
-   A Level Law in Action by Mothersole & Ridley P. 77 -
-   The Law Machine by Berlins & Dyer P. 34 – 58
 - Legal Services Ombudsman -
- The General Council of the Bar -
- The Law Society -

The Legal Profession - Barristers and Solicitors - Training and Work - The Basic Facts

                                          The Legal Profession
                                              Basic Facts
 Barristers - senior branch of legal profession as historically they were the only
  qualified lawyers.
 Barristers are specialists in advocacy - presentation and arguing of cases in court.
 Approx 10,000 barristers in independent practice in England and Wales.
 Controlled by own professional body - The General Council of the Bar - Barristers
  collectively known as ‘the bar’
 Two levels of barristers: Queen’s Counsel (QC or silk) and junior.

 Barristers must have a degree (at least 2:2)
 Graduates with non-law degree must ‘convert’ by taking 1 year course ‘Common
  Professional Examination’ which covers the foundations of legal knowledge.
 Trainee barristers must join one of the four Inns of Court (Lincoln’s Inn, Inner
  Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn) all of which are near the Royal Courts of
  Justice in London.
 Trainees must study the one year Bar Vocational Course where they will practise
  skills of advocacy, negotiation and drafting documents.
 Grants from Local Authorities are discretionary, some scholarships and funding by
    Bar Council, therefore biased entry towards middle class
 After BVC there is ‘on the job’ training called pupillage. The trainee barrister
  becomes a pupil to a qualified barrister (either 12 months with one pupil master or
  two different pupil masters for 6 months.) This involves sitting in court, conferences,
  looking up points of law, paper work
Very difficult to find pupillage, applications far out-way places available. Some pupillages
unpaid, approx 1/3 receive £10,000 during year of pupillage.

 After first 6 months of pupillage barristers are eligible to appear in court and may
  conduct their own cases.
 Following completion of the pupillage a barrister can practise if he if offered a ‘seat’
  or ‘tenancy’ in a set of chambers, this is not easy! The number of candidates
    outstrips the vacancies.
 ‘New Practitioners’ Programme’ organized by the Bar Council continued professional
    development for 3 years whilst working + ‘Established Practitioners’ Programme’ for
    practising barristers organised by the Bar Council.

The Legal Profession - Barristers and Solicitors - Training and Work - The Basic Facts

Barristers’ Work

 Barristers are self-employed and cannot form a partnership as solicitors do.
  Barristers usually join a set of chambers (15-20 barristers) and share a clerk and
  other administrative costs .

 The majority of barristers concentrate on advocacy work and have rights of audience
  in all courts.

 Until recently only barristers had the right to appear in the higher courts (HL, CA,
  HC, Crown Court) but this was changed by the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990
  and The Access to Justice Act 1999 and now both barristers and solicitors acquire
  full rights of audience when they are admitted to the roll, however they will only be
  able to exercise those rights on completion of the necessary training.

 In general clients cannot go directly to a barrister but must use a solicitor who then
  briefs a barrister if it becomes necessary. However certain professionals such as
  accountants and surveyors may go directly to a barrister. Since 1996 staff from the
  Citizen’s Advice Bureaux may consult a barrister directly on behalf of a client.

 The brief is the document passed from the solicitor to the barrister. A barrister may
  be briefed to appear in court, give an opinion or draft a document.

 The Bar is regulated by strict code of conduct e.g. ‘cab rank’ rule , Courts and Legal
  Services Act 1990 S.17

 A barrister who has practiced for ten years can apply to be made a Queen’s Counsel
  or QC (taking silk) QCs take on more complicated work and only those at top of the
  profession are likely to be selected by the Lord Chancellor.

 Most High Court judges have traditionally been appointed from ranks of QCs. Lord
    Chancellor’s criteria for selecting QCs has been criticised as too secretive. Recent
    changes mean that those applying have to pay a fee and if they are not successful
    they are given the reasons why. Only 10% of QCs are women and only a few from
    ethnic minorities. This in turn has an effect on the composition of the judiciary.

The Legal Profession - Barristers and Solicitors - Training and Work - The Basic Facts


 Solicitors - ‘general practitioners’ of the legal profession
 Approx 75,000 solicitors practising in England and Wales
 Governing body = The Law Society

 Graduate - degree other than law must do one year training in core legal
  subjects and take Common Professional Examination.
 Graduate - Law Degree proceeds to next stage
 One year Legal Practice Course. Practical ‘hands on’ training, client
  interviewing, negotiation, advocacy, drafting docs, legal research.
 Grants rarely available for either CPE or LPC
 Once student has passed LPC must obtain a training contract and work in
  solicitor’s firm for two years gaining practical experience.
 Shortage of these training contracts
 Law Society keeps close watch on training to ensure trainees have broad based
  education - + 20 day Professional Skills Course which builds on skills learnt on
  the LPC
 Training completed trainee admitted by the Law Society and name added to
  Roll (list) by Master of the Rolls.

Solicitors’ Work

 Majority of solicitors work in private practice in solicitor’s firm either as sole
  practitioner or in partnership, other careers are with CPS, a Local Authority,
  Government Dept, or legal advisers in business.

 Typical small high street firm gives advice on a number of legal issues eg
  consumer problems, conveyancing, business and family matters.

 Contentious work = advocacy work and appears in court on behalf of client
 Non contentious work = interviewing clients, paperwork = writing letters,
  drafting contracts, drawing up wills, conveyancing

The Legal Profession - Barristers and Solicitors - Training and Work - The Basic Facts

 Before 1985 sols had monopoly on conveyancing
 Adminstration of Justice Act 1985 allowed others to become licensed
 Court and Legal Services Act 1990 extended this right to banks and building
  societies. Blow to solicitors who lost a large proportion of their work and
  income. They demanded wider rights of audience.

Changes to Advocacy and Rights of Audience
 Solicitors always been advocates in Magistrates’ Court and County Court but
  could not appear in the Crown Court, High Court or Appeal courts - barristers

 Prior to 1990 solicitors could only work in Crown Court on a committal for
  sentence or appeal from Magistrates’ court.

 Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 allowed solicitors to apply for a
  certificate of advocacy to work in Higher Courts.

 Certificate of Advocacy granted if solicitor had experience of advocacy in
  Magistrates’ Court and County Court, took a short training course and passed
  exams on rules of evidence.
 First certificates of advocacy granted in 1998 - today 1000 sols exercise rights
  of audience in higher courts
Solicitors with advocacy qualification can be appointed as Queen’s Counsel and
appointed to higher judicial posts.

 Access to Justice Act 1999 (s.36) all solicitors will be given full rights of
  audience (all courts) - training requirements will be brought in to allow solicitors
  to obtain these rights.

 ? What effect will this have on barristers?

The Legal Profession - Barristers and Solicitors - Training and Work - The Basic Facts

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