I am a new qualified criminal barrister. I take home approximately £1,000 each month.
My typical day at work involves getting up at dawn, finishing my preparation for trial and travelling to a Court (which is usually an hour or two from my house). When I get to Court, I often have to deal with lack of disclosure or other reasons why the case cannot go ahead.
The cuts are already affecting not only defence but prosecution too. There are simply not enough staff at the Criminal Prosecution Service, and so there are severe delays in documents being disclosed to the defence. The Court is often over-listed with cases and several matters get adjourned due to lack of Court time. Cuts not only affect the standard of legal representation but also the efficiency of the legal system.
In the event a case goes ahead, having met my client and taken further instructions, I put their case before the court. Many of my clients are extremely vulnerable people who need support and my aim is always to achieve the best possible result for them, whether this is an acquittal or the best sentence available. After an often bruising day in Court I then go back to Chambers and work until late on my next case.
I am lucky because, due to a combination of family support and scholarships, I do not currently have any debt. My income each month is unpredictable, and is too little to enable me to save anything for my future. What is worse is that my earnings potential for the future is no better, which leaves me vulnerable in the event of illness and will make it much harder to start a family.
I think that many talented young lawyers will leave the legal aid profession if further cuts are introduced and this can only impact negatively on the vulnerable clients we represent.