Crime legal aid firms are forced to offer cheap ‘McJustice’ to clients, says strike leader

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By Jonathan Ames on

Head of London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association also has a pop at legal education establishment


Crime law solicitors’ firms have been forced into a “McJustice approach” of providing a fast-food-like service on the cheap, one of the leaders of current legal aid strike said in a frank interview published earlier this week.

Barrister-turned-solicitor-advocate Jon Black also lambasted what he described as profit-motivated law schools for creating a flood of students, who are bound to be disappointed by the current state of the employment market.

Black — the president of London Criminal Court’s Solicitor Association — told legal affairs blog LegalHackette’s Brief yesterday that too many criminal legal aid firms cut corners by “piling clients high and selling them cheap”.

But ultimately, according to Black, the market will regulate the system without the need for the government’s proposed dual-contracting system. That regime would force a reduction in the number of legal aid-authorised providers by about two-thirds.

Black explained:

There are firms that have gone on for years about the market being too big. There were people in them who trained us how to bill so we could recruit more lawyers, who are now saying there is an over-supply.

The founding partner of King’s Cross firm BSB Solicitors also fired a broadside at the legal education establishment for money-grubbing.

A former Leeds Grammar School boy, who studied English and history at Newcastle Poly before completing the bar course at the Inns of Court School of Law, Black blames deregulation of the universities in the 1990s and the post-graduate legal education system for creating a perfect storm. He told the website:

Law faculties popped up everywhere and the profit-driven provision of education meant over-recruitment at universities. That has been coupled with irresponsible recruitment to the Bar Professional Training Course and Legal Practice Course without warning students that there is no guarantee they will be the next Michael Mansfield or Helena Kennedy.