I am a 24 year old trainee solicitor working in crime. I get paid £12,000 and work over 12 hours days.
I arrive at work at 8am. Phone calls from clients start now and end about 10pm
At 9:30 I have a prison visit. I normally sit around for 1 hour whilst my clientis found.
At 11am I check my mail, usually legal aid forms or certificates around 5 per day. I have to telephone clients who have filled in forms incorrectly (a high proportion of illiterate /vulnerable / elderly clients who don’t understand what the forms are actually asking and a lot of time is spent explaining the client situation to the court).
I typically do some legal research,admin and billing throughout the day. Admin usually means lots of time on hold to, or chasing, the Legal Aid Agency, the police or the local council.
If I have to go to court, I will finish there at 4:30. When the court lists come out, I have to check that we are still covered. Inevitably, I find that things have been pulled or moved up at the eleventh hour.
At 5pm I have client and barrister meetings so that my clients don’t have to take time off work.
I leave the office anywhere between 6pm and 9pm. I am on call for 12 hour shifts between 9pm and 9am about four times a month.
I’m 24, living with my parents, earning £12,000. I have a car loan to pay off and have to have a car for my job. I have an LPC loan to pay off which is crippling. I can’t afford day to day living as once I’ve paid the loans and helped out with household expenses there’s £200 left.
I am worried about the cuts, not for my own struggle, that is essentially a choice, but I wonder how many people they expect to help clients on a pro bono basis? Access to justice is being totally denied.