Low pay 👎 long hours 👎 poor work-life balance 👎
The vast majority of young lawyers believe that criminal law is not an attractive career option, according to a new flash poll undertaken by the Law Society.
The survey found that 81% of young lawyers were reluctant to pursue a long-term career in crime, with low pay, long hours and poor work-life balance among the top factors cited by the nearly 140 respondents. .
Providing more detail on why they don’t see a long-term future in crime, a young lawyer said: “I don’t believe the government would ever fund it adequately to allow a lawyer a good pay and a good quality of life. Why go to college and the huge debts to earn the salary they earn, the hours they work and the antisocial hours on top of that.
Another respondent explained how they have recently moved from criminal to commercial law, where newly qualified partners working in the latter can earn up to £100,000 a year. “As a single person the pay was okay, but as a parent it’s not viable,” they said. “After switching to commercial law in a year, I have already doubled the salary I received as a criminal lawyer.”
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Another junior lawyer told researchers, “No work-life balance, no family prospects, very little pay, too emotionally draining without enough support, not respected by the public.”
The comments point to issues similar to those contained in the special report undertaken last summer by legal cheek.
One student told us how she was advised during a mini-pupling to “train away from crime within ten years and do something more lucrative”, while another aspiring lawyer said that she and many of her peers “thought twice before getting into criminal defense”. ” given the financial disadvantages.
The poll comes as criminal lawyers continue to operate a ‘no return’ policy – they agree not to accept cases referred from colleagues who have a log dispute – over their long-standing concerns about the legal aid funding.
Despite the government confirming in March that it had accepted an independent review’s recommendation to inject an extra £135million a year into the criminal legal aid sector, the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) says that the increased fees under the deal will “not be enough to retain enough criminal lawyers to keep the wheels of justice turning”.
The CBA is now considering further action with meetings and a membership ballot scheduled for next week.