Legal Aid Save A Fat Cat

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  • Legal Aid Save A Fat Cat
  • Premier Icon somafunk

    Signed, my mate is/was a layer working in glasgow and the surrounding area, he used to advertise in Mixmag and M8 dance music magazines (robert mercer – he knows the score 😀 ) and did a lot of legal aid work as well as looking after his very well paying private (glasgow established naughty families) clients. For the past 10 years he’s been banging on about the legal aid system and how it’s being stripped back so that only the well off who can afford to pay for high quality legal advice/representation will be sufficiently represented in a court. Needless to say he’s now sold up everything he owns and now lives in Portugal as he was always being dragged up in front of the law society for speaking out about the subject, sometimes in court which pissed the judge and prosecution off rather a lot, for the amount of work he did for his legal aid clients and the amount he was able to charge for/be paid for was at odds with the amount of work involved.

    Premier Icon stimpy

    The most important aspects of Failing Grayling’s proposals for reform of legal aid (and the reason everyone on STW should sign this petition) are these:

    1) He will remove your ability to choose a lawyer. If you need legal aid you will be assigned a lawyer chosen by the Government and you won’t be able to change (even if they’re sh1te)

    2) They will be sh1te since there won’t be a need for lawyers to be any good or do any work – they’ll be assigned clients who can’t leave them (see (1) above)

    3) The proposed new system puts all the money at the front of the process, i.e. more money for less work if you plead guilty. Wonder what advice you’ll get (see (1) and (2) above)

    4) You won’t get legal aid AT ALL if you earn over 37,500 p/a – you’ll have to pay for your own lawyers. If you’re found not guilty, you won’t get your money back from the Government – you’ll get back how much the Government says you should have spent (not what you actually did)

    It’s not just about “criminals” – it’s about anyone who ever has the misfortune to be accused of a criminal offence. If you’re the nice middle-class type who could only ever be wrongly accused – imagine if you are and the above is the legal system you are forced in to (rather than one where you can choose your lawyer from firms that have to compete with each other on quality).

    There are more details but that’s the highlights (lowlights?).

    Oh, and it will reduce the number of legal aid firms from around 1,600 to 400.

    And many of those firms will be Group 4 Securicor (G4S), Serco, Eddie Stobart Law (I kid you not – they’re one of the lead interests) and the Co-Op.

    I could go on and on. Just sign the petition.


    Not surprisingly people like me who have been making a mint out of ripping off the public purse representing evil criminals are up in arms at the end of our gravy train.

    Well I am not sure of the wisdom of such a full and frank confession, but I nevertheless have taken your early guilty plea into consideration and decided to show leniency. I have therefore signed your petition.


    stimpy thanks for the more focused argument, I have been at work since 9am and still here so now a tad tired. Thanks to those who have signed.


    Video: the Downfall of Chris Grayling

    On the NHS thread some one raised the Governments plans for legal aid.

    Chris Grayling minister for “justice” plans to cut legal aid by massively reducing the fees. Removing the client’s right to choose their lawyer and instead allocating clients to the lowest bidder for the work .The expectation is that legal services will be provided by a few very big suppliers not firms of solicitors. The suggested suppliers have included Eddie Stobbarts, SERCO and the COOP. The removal of the right to choose is expressed by the government as necessary to ensure lawyers do not compete on the basis of quality of service but only compete on price. He in terms states this is ok as the public are too thick to pick a lawyer for them.

    Not surprisingly people like me who have been making a mint out of ripping off the public purse representing evil criminals are up in arms at the end of our gravy train.
    We are trying to con the public by revealing our real wages circa £30-£40k per annum. Our hours of work, 5 day weeks plus nights and weekends and bank holidays on call.
    We also try to suggest that justice effects everyone by dredging up less evil clients, such as school teachers falsely accused of assault, police officers accused of domestic violence, hard working family men accused of sex offences by the troubled child they fostered.

    We also rather selflessly have demonstrated how the same amount of money could be saved without closing 70% of the current providers depriving citizens of their right to a lawyer of their choice and removing the expectation that a lawyer will fight to the best of their ability for their client.
    There is a petition to sign if you are against these plans. The response from the ministry is factually misleading actually British justice is quite cheap and countries with lower legal aid spends incur higher expense elsewhere for example in France Examining magistrates perform as civil servants many of the tasks Defence lawyers do in this country so leading to an overall more expensive system.
    So sign the petition please


    my mate is/was a layer working in glasgow and the surrounding area, ….. and did a lot of legal aid work … For the past 10 years he’s been banging on about the legal aid system

    worth bearing in mind that the Scottish and English Legal Aid systems are different – although both screwed up!

    4) You won’t get legal aid AT ALL if you earn over 37,500 p/a – you’ll have to pay for your own lawyers. If you’re found not guilty, you won’t get your money back from the Government – you’ll get back how much the Government says you should have spent (not what you actually did)

    there’s a good example of the difference across the border. As I understand it you get nothing back in Scotland! Oh and the thresholds are lower than £37.5k…

    …there is an increasing trend for unrepresented people which may well be a false economy for the whole system as those cases typically take much more court time.

    Premier Icon jamj1974

    Signed also. The slow erosion of civil liberties in the UK, is something that we should all be shouting about much, much louder. If anyone will listen that is.


    Bump. Write to your MP too if you can.



    But I’m relying on the CPS losing the files/case getting thrown out/HCA screwing up trials/and lack of morale in the Police Force due to cut-backs to get off. 😀

    BTW will I be able to use my Co-Op members card to get point?


    I’ve never a met a solicitor that I’d piss on if they were on fire


    Hi sancho I’ve seen your the only good lawyer is a dead lawyer posts before . Do you actually have anything to add to the thread . The thread is about the governments plans to remove everyone’s right to an effective defense when they are accused of crime . Replacing a relatively cheap and effective system with a lowest bidder minimum standards program . If seen through these changes will lose the country it’s cache of experienced criminal lawyers and the judges drawn from them .

    Do you really want people like Mark Bridger to walk free because of a legal mistake at trial undermining his conviction?

    If you were falsely accused would you really be happy to know you were represented to someone contractually bound to offer a no better than minimum standard service?

    Are you happy that once the ideology of lack of client choice and minimum standards from lowest bidder has been road tested on the unpopular expense of legal aid it may be rolled out elsewhere in state funded services ? Schools ? hospitals?


    I’ve been helped enormously by lawyers in the past, for not much money. I can’t quite see sancho’s point of view, I can imagine there are bad ones but of the 5 or 6 I have dealt with I have always been dead impressed.

    Premier Icon MSP

    Here in Germany, most people seem to have legal insurance, maybe earning 37k people should consider taking out legal insurance, I can’t say I am against restricting legal aid to those who need it the most.

    All the rest of the proposals are just ridiculous, in a system where the poorest and most vulnerable are already steamrollered by the system, it seems the government is hell bent on criminalising poverty.

    Premier Icon stimpy

    Hi Crankboy

    No problem – succinct and focused argument is what I do for a living 😀


    Everyone should sign. It’s about preserving an independent legal profession who are prepared to stand up on your behalf against the Government or their agencies when you most need someone to stand up for you.

    Who aren’t beholden to fixed-term fixed-price contracts (or insurance company dictats about which cases will be fought and which won’t…I’m not with you on the insurance model MSP). A legal profession which isn’t rigged with financial incentives which all point towards guilty pleas (which is what the Government is proposing, by the way).

    Did you know that the Government’s official line on why it’s OK to remove your ability to choose a lawyer is because you’re all too thick to pick? I’m not making that up.

    Meanwhile to keep your (our) spirits up…

    Premier Icon stimpy

    Bump for the weekend crowd. Get signing.


    This is alarming. Signed.


    Would it not be easier if we nationalised you and mad eyou work for a lower wage

    TBh on the one occasion I used the legal profession I could not find anyone willing to work for less than £100 per hour + VAT

    I dont see many crap cars in the car parks or the partners struggling to get by tbh

    In essense the proposals are really crap but the high fees charged by the legal profession have not helped the situation any. Perhaps the front line are not well paid but it is very expensive

    Signed as they are crap but they have a point re the cost IMHO

    Premier Icon The Pinkster

    Signed here too.


    Junkyard when I do private payers I charge 140 quid an hour I think I am supposed to charge 180 according to the court approved rates. I often w ill agree less if I feel the client can’t afford it and needs the help. Essentially private client rates for criminal work are rare and either reflect private client rates in other areas ie up to 300 per hour or are what you think the client can afford if they can’t afford the cost of time plus margin for profit .

    The legal aid that is being cut is paid on fixed fees calculated by reference to rates of between 42 and 69 pounds per hour . No pay for travel or waiting even though due to govt inefficiencies we often spend hours or even days waiting . I once was idle for 2 days waiting for a floating trial to be called.

    The government (labour)did try to nationalise the work it was called the public defender service . Even though they rigged the figures it worked out more expensive than private practice .

    The two partners in my firm are massively in debt and have drawn no money for the last 4 months we have all taken a 20% pay cut and had redundancies as a result of the cuts that preceded these plans and the downturn in prosecutions.

    I drive a fiat panda .

    For what it is worth our firm appears in the legal 500 directory ie in theory a well regarded firm .

    ( I don’t necessarily believe the partners about nil drawings but I know they are getting very little)


    I should point out that hourly rates have to cover all staff wages office costs cars computers and training. There is a fairly reasonable calculation that shows that on the proposed reforms an advocate doing a rape trial will be on 12 quid an hour from which they will have to pay their office costs/support staff and tax.

    Premier Icon stimpy

    Crankboy – nil drawings wouldn’t surprise me. I know of many firms that are struggling to stay afloat.

    Junkyard – this isn’t about private legal fees (which is what you’re talking about). This is about legal aid – i.e. state-aided legal support (in English, the State providing you with lawyers when you’re wrongly accused of something).

    The Government want to take away your right to choose a free or heavily subsidised lawyer and instead want a system where you are appointed a lawyer (who doesn’t have to be any good, because they aren’t competing for clients – the Government just appoints them) and then the Government proposed to give those lawyers more money if you plead guilty. Guess what advice they might be minded to give you?

    So sign the damn petition. It’s not about “how sh1t my lawyer was when I got divorced” or “how sh1t my lawyer was when I had that boundary dispute”.

    It IS about “why am I being forced to have a lawyer I don’t like, whose advice I don’t trust and who I know is being given more money if I plead guilty”. You want a system like that, fine. You don’t? Sign the petition.



    Of course legal representation is absolutely imperative for a citizen to have redress against the state but the enormous fees the profession charges are a barrier to this provision.

    yes it is a shit proposal , yes I have signed but I am not sure the fees help us have a workable solution

    why am I being forced to have a lawyer I don’t like, whose advice I don’t trust and who I know is being given more money if I plead guilty”.

    If the average person in the street could afford your fees we would not have this problem and i could use the QC of my choice as i could afford the services

    Premier Icon stimpy

    Junkyard you plainly don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The fees you (or anyone else) are charged are NOT what the Government pays lawyers through Legal Aid.

    The Government dictates the amount of money it pays lawyers working on Legal Aid and often requires large amounts of work in cases to be done for free (there is much work in a case that I cannot charge for doing but I still have to do it).

    The Government pays legal aid lawyers CONSIDERABLY less than the hourly rate they charge you (or other members of the public).

    So what you get charged is not the same as the rate the Government pays.

    So IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT about the fees I (or any other lawyer) charge, because we can not charge the Government our standard hourly rates when working on Legal Aid cases.

    When I do Legal Aid work, I do it for CONSIDERABLY less than my standard private-client hourly rate. Why do I do Legal Aid work? Because I think representing people in difficulty is an important thing to do.

    Although frankly, for the thanks we get (from uninformed rants like yours about ‘the fees I charge the public purse’ when that is so far from reality or the truth) I begin to wonder why I bother.

    Premier Icon stimpy

    An example for you Junkyard – imagine I’m representing someone accused of stealing from their employer.

    It’s due for two days of trial.

    I’ve drafted a defence statement (which I can’t charge for – so that’s free)

    I’ve had two meetings with the client (which I can’t charge for)

    I’ve had to prepare the case for trial (which I can’t charge for, even if it takes days or weeks)

    I have to travel to court (which I can’t charge for)

    The case doesn’t go ahead because the prosecution witness doesn’t turn up (I can’t charge anything because the case didn’t start). And that’s punched a two-day hole in my work diary (because it was a two-day case)

    Not exactly a fat cat yet, am I? Days and days of work that (under the current system) I cannot charge anything for.

    You go and find me a plumber that will do days and days of work for free. Or anyone, actually.

    So, about “the fees I charge”. What have you got to say now about how I’m somehow overcharging the Legal Aid system?


    so is it the case that only expensive solicitors are any good and cheap ones are all rubbish, if that’s the case how are they practising.

    so the legal aid and courts shouldnt waste money with cheap solicitors as they are rubbish and will cock up the case?

    sounds odd that only expensive fees will get you a good lawyer
    (which in my experience isn’t true either)

    Premier Icon stimpy

    Sancho, read my posts before commenting. The government dictates how much legal aid lawyers are paid. So there are no “cheap” or “expensive” legal aid lawyers because they are all paid the same rate.

    If you want to pay privately then thats a different matter. Only then does it matter how much I charge.

    And you’re right that expensive does not equal good (although neither does cheap mean good either).

    Only ‘good’ means ‘good’.

    Premier Icon stimpy

    The reforms will mean that:

    A) You won’t be able to choose your lawyer – you will be appointed one (good luck with that because it won’t matter whether they’re good or crap, that’s the one you’re appointed) and

    B) That lawyer will get more money if you plead guilty than if you plead not guilty. Are you still happy being represented by that lawyer? Bear in mind that under the proposed system you can’t choose your lawyer.

    If you’re happy being defended by someone you can’t choose who is being offered financial incentives to do less work, fine. Good luck with that if you (or anyone you care about) is ever wrongly accused of committing a crime.

    If you’d like the option of choosing your lawyer, or having a system which doesn’t give incentives to get you to plead guilty, then sign the petition.


    That lawyer will get more money if you plead guilty than if you plead not guilty. Are you still happy being represented by that lawyer?

    Are you saying they would do something unethical just for money – i thought we were meant to be doing the bashing 😉

    joking aside thanks for the education and facts I happy to retract what I said as largely wrong and as I said I signed.

    What would the hourly rate be for Legal Aid work then ? I realise that would be hard to do.
    As some QC’s do it do they charge as normal and get it all back if the person is innocent?
    I am not a hater of lawyers/legal professions but none of you are poor IME though I assume it is the partners who are milking it


    And get on with it! It’s still a long way from the magic 100,000 signatures. Pretty please.

    (That doesn’t read properly because Junkyard intervened; it’s supposed to follow on from the ” sign the petition” in the previous post. )


    Sancho the answer is no.
    I can charge a massive hourly rate I have 25 years experience I have a higher rights qualification that allows me to appear in any court in country . I have lectured at a university ( metropolitan ) and to psychiatrists ( that was scary . ) I have represented hardend criminals who can and will hurt the people they don’t like or who get them bad results . I have a following of clients who chose to come back to me because they know they can trust me . I do legal aid because I like it and think it is important that we have a fair justice system . The pay was ok but not excessive . As a partner ie manager head of a team and principal fee earner I made about 45 k pa . I am now earning less .
    This is about criminal law any good criminal lawyer is available at criminal legal aid rates see the posts above. If you pay me at 300 per hour you get me doing my best if legal aid pays me at 42 per hour you get me doing my best . Read the thread the proposal we are fighting is that in future you won’t get to chose me you will get a employee of some company contractually obliged to be no better than acceptable.

    Premier Icon muddydwarf
    Premier Icon stimpy

    Junkyard – interesting point on the ‘ethics’ – two examples.

    1) Enron – an international (and well respected) firm of accountants basically deliberately shredded incriminating documents (against their professional code) simply to save their single biggest client

    2) psychological studies have shown that even in a medical setting, doctors will act in certain ways depending on whether (or how) they have financial incentives. So even where health is at stake, money talks.

    Legal aid doesn’t pay a set hourly rate, basically the Government pays a “lump sum” calculated by reference to the type of case (e.g. murder pays more than theft) and by how many witnesses/how many pages of evidence/how many days of trial the case involves (up to a limit).

    The rates I charge my private clients (i.e. not legal aid clients) is completely different.

    But also bear in mind that the money I receive is a gross sum. Out of that money I have to deduct:

    1) My business expenses (including premises, IT, transport etc)
    2) My staff’s salaries, PAYE and pensions
    3) My own tax and NI contributions

    And no-one pays me any sick pay, holiday pay or pension.

    So suddenly legal aid looks a whole lot less attractive. And private-client hourly rates don’t look quite so extortionate when you understand what they’re paying for.

    And I work HARD.


    I’ve read your posts hence why i felt compelled to comment.

    “The Government want to take away your right to choose a free or heavily subsidised lawyer and instead want a system where you are appointed a lawyer (who doesn’t have to be any good, because they aren’t competing for clients – the Government just appoints them)”

    you would appear to be suggesting that there are vastly different standards for qualified solicitors. and if therefore we should only deal with good ones, how does anyone getting one appointed have a clue as to how good they are.

    may be I’m wrong, but my only experience of solicitors has been with lying, fraudulent, stupid, useless ones that don’t know the law and who’s only incentive has been to increase their fees.

    so maybe the gravy train is coming to an end, I am sure you solicitors could devise a better scheme but that probably wont work either as I wouldnt trust you to organise a football match on the park with jumpers for goal posts.

    Premier Icon stimpy

    Sancho, fine. Don’t sign the petition. You can end up being represented by the lawyer you are forced to have and who is being given an incentive to make you plead guilty. Great system you’ll end up with there and good luck to you.

    Everyone else who is actually able to comprehend the significance of what the Government is proposing to do can just crack on and sign.

    It’s not about ‘gravy trains’. Go back and re-read all of mine (and crankboy’s) posts. Then think an awful lot harder than you currently are about it all.


    I have a degree
    I have a post grad qualification}
    I have taught at unis and I get about £14 an hour

    Just saying like

    I am still not clear what you get from legal aid as a rate so far
    Is it not the case that part of the problem is the costs.

    Would it not just make sense to have a privatised service where there are state appointed ones – perhaps make you all do some hours for cases to keep your legal rights??

    Again the legal profession and the right to representation is an absolute right required to maintain fundamental rights and it is one of the most important checks and balances in a democracy.
    If I cannot afford it this it does not really matter , I do agree we need a cost effective system.

    I furhter agree this proposal is an utter disaster though

    Please dont confuse my attitude with Sanchos


    Qc’s can only do certain work and so becoming a QC can actually mean a pay cut for a busy junior.
    A QC doing legal aid work will make the legal aid rate win or lose .
    The same pay for guilty pleas or trials is valid but should we be put in the position where doing the right thing costs us a significant amount of money . Imagine me coming home to my wife at the end of the month ” i’m sorry love we can’t pay the mortgage but my client said he was innocent so I had to run the hopeless three day trial . “.
    At the moment I can and do say to obviously guilty clients ” look what you do is up to you but this is all the evidence…… you should plead guilty . If you don’t I will make a lot more money but it will be worse for you. ” the fact I can tell someone to plead guilty when that costs me money means my advice is trusted . That saves a huge public expense and the further suffering of a victim . To reverse the position what client is going to trust advise to plead when a lawyer imposed upon him by the state has a financial interest in a guilty plea.

    I obviously have a personal and financial interest in opposing these “reforms” but they are so transparently bad and ill conceived that anyone who cares about the concept of justice and equality before the law ought to goin me and SIGN THE PETITION.

    Late and tad drunk sorry for typing grammer etc

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