Is hiring a solicitor for my magistrates court case the best decision, or is there a better way?
Most people would love to have an experienced criminal barrister with them for their magistrates court case.
The problem is that we hear stories of burned out barristers – and solicitors who don’t seem to do much for the fees they charge.
What if your magistrates court trial is listed for tomorrow morning? How would you feel if you found out that your solicitor is ringing around barristers’ chambers at 6 pm this evening, looking for someone to cover your case?
Maybe your last minute barrister will be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat and get you a good deal on the day – but do you really want your case and your life to be dealt with like that?
The cost to both of us by your hiring a solicitor who hires me the night before your trial
In return for your doing things the old fashioned, “solicitor first” way, you could get months of anxiety wondering if you are going to be able to overcome the case against you. You might be wondering if the magistrates will be able to see what you can see – and you may be wishing that you could just speak to your barrister now. Then there’s the impact these accusations may be having on your family or your position at work.
A criminal defence barrister friend of mine recently quit his job. He’s a highly experienced criminal trial lawyer from the States – yet he doesn’t do criminal trials in England anymore. This is what he told me:
And yeah, I didn’t apply to chambers at the end of my pupillage because I didn’t want to join the solicitor/barrister/no investigation/meet the client on the day of trial/keep your eye on the page count hamster wheel. It was a very dispiriting experience.
Does the legal hamster wheel have to be your story – or mine?
The thing to consider is this: Is the legal hamster wheel, where a solicitor instructs a barrister at the last minute, going to allow you to put your heart and soul into your case and transform you from a stressed out defendant with everything to lose – to someone who overcomes the accusations against them and gets their life back?
Should you be at a magistrates court without a lawyer?
Unless you know how to hold the CPS to account about Disclosure and you know how to analyse the evidence against you – and to cross-examine police officers and other witnesses – probably not.
The problem is, you’ll never know if you are ready until the verdict is read out in court. By then, you may have lost your licence or good character – or worse.
Why direct access works
As only a few of us are authorised to work as direct access criminal barristers, you’ll need to contact me, probably weeks in advance, to make sure I’m available. This gives both of us the chance to give your case the time and attention it deserves.
When you buy my barrister services direct, I win. Clearly. While I may charge a lower fee than a solicitor, the fee you pay isn’t shared by anyone – and it’s paid upfront. Plus, I get the gift of time to work with you – making sure that no stone is left unturned.
But here’s the reality: you win, too.
Because I am not on the hamster wheel, I can guide you throughout your journey, giving you clarity about your position and helping you become who you are supposed to be – the person who looks their problem straight in the eye, finds the most effective way forward, and gets the best possible result, as soon as possible.
My simple tip
Look for the “win-win”. Consider whether the “comfort” of having both a solicitor and barrister truly is the most effective use of your time and resources.