Doughty Street Chambers and Bindmans Solicitors highlight demise of legal aid — while actor’s wife jets between New York and London
Hollywood glamour puss George Clooney may soon be called on to underwrite his wife’s London chambers if her colleagues continue to act for legal aid rates below the London “living wage”.
Reports today suggested that a seven-year-call barrister at fashionable Doughty Street Chambers advised in a criminal matter on a legal aid rate that worked out at £1.50 an hour.
According to the Living Wage Foundation, the minimum hourly rate in the capital should be £9.15 — some £2.65 above the current legal national minimum wage.
The latest illustration of the shocking state of legal aid rates came to light in an online article from the Solicitors Journal. That piece told the story of a case in which London law firm Bindmans instructed Doughty Street’s Sara Williams to act for a defendant in a case involving two teenagers and allegations of indecent images.
The magazine related that the barrister travelled a total of 640 miles to attend court hearings — all for the paltry sum of £128. On top of that, Williams and Bindmans solicitors in total allocated 70 hours to the matter.
But because the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop the case before trail, no legal aid trial fee was granted, meaning the total litigator fee amounted to £330.33 plus VAT.
According to Solicitors Journal, that resulted in two Bindmans’ solicitors working for an hourly rate of £4.66 — a relative fortune compared with the fee the barrister was able to claim.
Clooney married five-year-call Amal Alamuddin last September, and according to the most recent Sunday Times (£) rich list, the couple are worth some £121 million. Most of that dosh is his, with estimates suggesting the actor’s personal fortune is valued at around £113m.
However, that still leaves Amal — who earlier this year joined Columbia University’s law school as a visiting lecturer on human rights — with a tasty £8m. So perhaps she should be throwing in an enhanced contribution to the collective chambers’ pot.