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Posts Tagged ‘the bar’

Two unconnected pieces of info for you:

Firstly, the Bar Standards Board has approved barristers forming LDPs. Big changes ahead I think. Thanks to the LAG blog for this.

Secondly, PM on Radio 4 briefly covered the CAFCASS Crisis today – tomorrow they will run another slot with comment from Guardians. On Radio 4 tomorrow (Weds) between 5 and 6pm.

Postscript:

I have to post a link to this story reported today in The Times about the LSC refusing to fund new cases being taken on by solicitors. Yet another bit falls off the wagon. The whole system is falling to pieces.

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I want to publicise the disastrous proposals to swipe legal aid in family cases. Not just because it will hurt my pocket, but because it is going to have long term and serious consequences for the families who most need the help of the family justice system, which I do not think government, the LSC, lawyers or the public at large fully appreciate. I cannot stress enough for the skeptics out there amongst you that this post is about access to justice and the promotion of family life, not just about fat cat lawyers. PLEASE read the whole of this post (sorry it is long) and let anyone you can know what you think. Please respond to the consultation even if you are not a lawyer.

The family justice system is already under considerable pressure (an understatement – it is already fraying at the edges if not coming apart at the seams):

  • CAFCASS are underfunded and taking up to 8 months to prepare reports. They have inadequate resources to undertake their core work let alone to facilitate the newly implemented contact activities and enforcement orders.
  • Court budgets are being cut. There are not enough judges to deal with cases promptly because they cannot be paid (e.g. 2 months to list an urgent contested interim residence hearing because the local court had overspent 44 judge days).
  • Solicitors are demoralised as they have been absorbing cuts in their pay for years and for many this work is no longer viable and they are closing their doors to publicly funded clients.
  • Public funding is more and more tightly controlled and there is already an increase in litigants in person which itself puts added strain on the system (more court time, less negotiation and consensual resolution)
  • Social workers are demoralised and local authorities are fire fighting. Resource limitations mean they are often reluctant to provide support and assistance to families or the courts

The reason that the system still functions at all is that those who remain are extraordinarily committed and work really hard to find creative solutions to the difficulties in the system. We spend a considerable proprortion of our time finding the least unsatisfactory interim solutions to tide parties over until the court can actually deal with their urgent problem. It’s prejudicial and unfair to parties and damaging for children.

It is still the general view that family barristers do ok and that – by virtue of the fact that we are barristers – we are paid very highly. This is not actually the case. In any event I don’t want to complain about what we are paid – I want to let people know just how much our pay is going to be cut and what consequences will trickle through the system as a result of that and a thousand other tiny cuts. (more…)

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Hmm – this post seems to have been waylaid in my ‘drafts’ folder for reasons of PEBCAK.

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In Short – see my comments on episode 1, episode 2 and episode 3: more of the same. The final episode can be summarised thus: more shots of people being called to the bar in oak panelled rooms, plus (just incase you’d missed the point being delicately made in episodes 1, 2 and 3) the addition of gratuitous shots of  tourists looking impressed at Temple Church in order to demonstrate how ancient yet interesting we barristers are (shamelessly borrowing pop-kudos from the be-corduroyed Da Vinci Code). Some interesting footage of criminal practice (very interesting actually but there are a few of us that do other things). Oh, and a demonstration of how needlessly unpleasant tenancy application processes can be – poor Kakoly Pande. Glad she got in – clearly a determined and plucky individual which are important attributes at the bar – but I think I’d have almost felt like telling them where to stick their tenancy after that sadistic experience.

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Part 1 was a bit of a disappointment for me, but I’ll keep an open mind until the end of all four episodes…It was a bit crammed with the entertaining archaisms and amusing traditions which are frontloaded onto entry into the profession and frankly a bit hackneyed – the formal dinners and all the other stuff you have to contend with when training, and the whimsical stories everyone gets told on their first mini-pupillage (red bags etc). It’s not really representative of what the bar is all about. I can’t think when I last wore a wig and I have made a point of avoiding obnoxious formal dinners since I earnt my twelfth dining point and got called. And I shake other barrister’s hand just to annoy them (tradition says we don’t do that at the bar).

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I had understood that one of the barristers being followed was a family barrister, perhaps he or she will make an appearance in later episodes along with a bit more reality tv (I mean that literally not pejoratively) and a bit less confirming of stereotypes.

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Notwithstanding all the mildly amusing stories it wasn’t exactly an exciting piece of telly, but don’t let that dissuade you from watching future episodes – we are really not as dull as you might think from part 1 and I think it will get better….

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