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Criminal bar strike in pics 📸

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Barristers join picket lines across the country

CBA chair Jo Sidhu QC addresses the crowds outside the Central Criminal Court in London – Credit @jonblackbsb

Criminal barristers joined picket lines outside court buildings across England and Wales today in protest over the government’s legal aid reforms.

The decision to down tools comes a week after barristers voted overwhelmingly in favour of days of strike action, with the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) warning that the government’s proposed fee increases will not “keep the wheels of justice turning”.

The industrial action will initially see criminal barristers down tools for two days from today, with further strikes planned for the following weeks.

The Justice Secretary Dominic Raab described the action as “regrettable” and encouraged barristers to accept what he says equates to a “15% pay rise”.

Below is round-up of some of the more eye-catching images from the first day of protests.

London

Birmingham

Bristol

Cardiff

Leeds

Manchester

This article will be updated throughout the day.

41 Comments

Dan

It’s crazy how the criminal bar has become such an unattractive career route now compared to years ago

Aspiring lawyers would want to become a criminal lawyer from watching Silk and other shows

(38)(3)

Harry W

And if we are being honest, no corporate deal is anywhere near as interesting as the cases you deal with in criminal law

Even studying criminal law at an academic level is far more intellectually stimulating than any employment, IP, competition law etc module

And I’m saying this as someone who is a trainee at a corporate law firm

(46)(12)

Jo

I was just thinking this the other day..

Why is it that the most interesting areas of law to study and practice in the ones that pay peanuts?!!

I can guarantee you that most aspiring lawyers are making decisions based on salary rather than what they actually like

(36)(4)

RT

It’s not just the law where you will find this phenomenon. It’s called life.

But there is a solution, you just have to make some hard choices and be true to yourself.

Better one real life than a million years trying to please other people. And sometimes you find that this in fact turns out to be the best thing you could have ever done.

(2)(5)

NeverQC

It’s a shame the pay as a barrister now isn’t as promising in comparison to the solicitor route, especially the likes of salaries at a top city firm

In all honestly, the six figure salaries these law firms are offering are blinding students and heavily swaying their decisions to pick the solicitor route

Years ago when the salary was on more of a level playing field whether you chose the barrister route or solicitor route the law students made their decisions more based on the area of law they liked – can’t say the same thing now

(22)(5)

minor correction

Comparing rates of pay as a criminal barrister with those of commercial solicitors is a bit apples-to-oranges. Generally the earnings of barristers are higher than those of their solicitor equivalents – I suspect that’s still true of criminal practice, it’s just that both are unfortunately underpaid.

I think your point is more about choosing practice areas as a whole rather than the barrister or solicitor route. The commercial bar certainly pays a lot better than the magic circle (or American firms, for that matter)!

(12)(11)

Truth Serum

Agreed

The only thing I would add is that the chances of landing a TC at a top city corporate firm/US firm is much higher than securing pupilage let alone a tenancy at a commercial bar

Applications for the commercial bar means competing primarily with valedictorian Oxbridge candidates who also have an Ivy League Uni Masters degree and other impressive things in their CVS

Whilst the commercial (or any) bar does pay more than their solicitor counterparts, they take on very few candidates each year and the pickings are very slim. The mouth watering salaries only benefit a lucky few…

(31)(3)

Queen's English

One does not have valedictorians in England.

Fascinated

Great input Queen’s English, thanks for your riveting comment

Anonymous

Oxbridge will mean less in the near future, as will degrees from places like UCL, when the watering down of “contextual recruitment” kicks in. A level results will become more and more important (though not the comedy “everyone gets an A” covid A-levels which will always have an asterisk next to them, and not in a good way).

Queen's English

Fascinated, the comment was not intend to be riveting, it highlight how the poster at 2:02pm did not have experience of the issues about which they were writing.

MC ass

I got a decent 2.1 from a Russell group and a bit of work experience before training at an MC firm, where I still work years later earning great money. With my credentials, I’d have been lucky to get pupillage anywhere, let alone a set with great pay prospects. There just aren’t many pupillages available so they are still crazy competitive. Most barristers I know did years of post-Uni experience before getting a middling pupillage, or they had an Oxbridge first, or both. The profession doesn’t exactly have its doors wide open.

(4)(1)

Al

I really enjoyed my criminal bar days. It was fun; and a source of some great stories.

It just wasn’t sustainable though; so I sold my soul for something a little less thankless and a lot better remunerated. I still try to focus on areas I enjoy; but I can supplement that with general commercial stuff.

Now though the nearest I come to the criminal courts is the occasional traffic thing for business clients. And it’s ridiculous that I can earn more with one of those than I could with a three day publicly funded Crown Court trial.

(22)(1)

Olde Skool

Robing outside of court is poor form. Robing outside of court for PR purposes is worse.

(18)(53)

Anon

You spelt “robbing” wrong

(4)(11)

Flying Picket

What do we want? A 25% increase not a 15% one.
When do we want it? In the middle of a national public sector pay crunch that means our demands are hopeless.

(19)(54)

Hackaforte

What do we do?
Plead our case at its highest!

Why do we do it?
Because we’re barristers!

How much do we ask for?
A bit more than we think we’ll get!

Why do we do that?
It’s how negotiation works!

(57)(5)

Civil Junior Barrister

The state of the comments on this website – you should be ashamed. It is no secret among the entire legal profession how parlous the situation is at the Criminal Bar, and in the CJS generally.

Solidarity with my ciminal colleagues.

(89)(7)

Lord Bond

Is it true that criminal barristers earn gross 80-90k per year on legal aid?

Based on the crime fees app, a refresher for a CC criminal trial is around 400-500 (not including the brief fee).

If the fees app is accurate, then surely earning 80-90k a year is not awful.

Obviously post-pupillage tenants are not going to earn this amount, but like any start up business, you will have to forge those relationships yourself and get the CC trial work in.

The above earnings do not apply to juniors undertaking Mags’ Court work.

(8)(31)

Brief

And chambers/clerks/travel (mostly not covered)/other unpaid expenses?
At least 20% + off that

(1)(1)

Lord Bond

Do you accept that ”chambers/clerks/travel (mostly not covered)/other unpaid expenses” are part and parcel of being self-employed?

If some criminal barristers are unable to attract the CC work, then ofcourse, they are not going to survive. With respect, you are just as good as your next brief.

(0)(1)

Nicola Moore

Dear Lord
It is not true that the median of criminal barristers earn 80-90k. If you look at the most recent review of earnings of the criminal bar in the CLAR report it – In 2021, only 2,400 barristers reported that their practice was entirely publicly-funded criminal work, down from from 2,670 the previous year.

Meanwhile, the average annual income after expenses for barristers working full-time on publicly-funded crime work fell by 23%, from £61,000 to £47,000.

Hence its on average 47k. Average working hours per week 60-80. No of working days per week 6. sick pay – zero, holiday pay – zero, pension – zero. Equates to £12.23 per hour (just over minimum wage)
For every hour you are in court you average 2.5 to 3 hours prep. Brief fees are meaningless because they purport to be a “day” rate. It is not a day rate – it represents probably anything from 13 hours to 40 hours work depending on what the case is. If you do RASSO cases you are required to have contact with those whose personal trauma is loaded onto you whether defending or prosecuting. The stress involved in such work is immeasurable and is a valuable public service – you would expect those who deal with such cases to be paid properly.

Salary for Tesco operations manager – 47 – 51k pa – working week – k40 hours, holiday paid, pension, sick pay

Salary for magic circle solicitor – NQ – 90k plus pa – I know they take their pound of flesh too but you do get holiday and sick pay.

You are clearly ignorant in the matters you speak of
I have posted my REAL name on this post – I speak the truth not the spin placed on the criminal Bar by the government or ill-informed DM readers or others, like you, who express opinions based on fiction.

(6)(1)

Alan

This is so typical of the snowflake left these days. “Look at me, I decided to take a low paid job, but you have to pay me more”. No sympathy.

(6)(51)

Anti-Alan

This sort of dull witless flaming is quite tragic.

(44)(2)

Alan

So I’m not entitled to express an opinion, because it doesn’t fit the mainstream media lefty agenda? This country was built on free speech hadn’t realised that had changed.

(3)(19)

Anti-Alan

This sort of dull witless flaming is quite tragic.

(17)(3)

Anon

Great take bro

(3)(2)

Alan

Thanks glad someone agrees.

(0)(9)

Anti-Alan

This sort of dull witless flaming is quite tragic.

(9)(2)

CrimBob

It should read “Defence Bar Strike” – the CPS has made it clear that those instructed to prosecute today need to turn up as normal on pain of not being instructed anymore.

(20)(0)

Associate (Corporate)

Shameful what’s happening here and in many other fields/industries. They’re not asking for the moon – they just want half-decent guaranteed pay for difficult and worthwhile work. And the money, when spent, will come back into government coffers at some stage or used to stimulate someone else’s business, or whatever. It really doesn’t cost the government much and it means we’re all better off with a functioning justice system.

(22)(3)

Unpopular Opinion Puffin

I’m not sure the timing of this is right, you know…

(8)(15)

Mongebintle

Someone has learned the old delete cookies and downvote repeatedly trick…

(0)(6)

Crime Correspondent

Then the junior doctors asked for 30%! There no chance of more than 15% but they might, just might, get the uplift applied to current instructions too, which is all they must really be aiming for.

(5)(0)

One who knows

Well…… I suppose after years of over inflated red corner bills they’ve done it to themselves….

(4)(7)

An Real Barrister

In spite of the news pictures, many many barristers quietly and meekly turned up for work yesterday for a number of reasons:

1. They’re prosecuting and had been told by CPS that they had to turn up or they would be breaching their duties as panel advocates.

2. The LCJ has instructed the Judiciary to report non-attending barristers to the BSB.

3. The Bar Council ethics committee has required striking barristers to SELF REPORT to the BSB for serious professional misconduct and REPORT OTHER BARRISTERS for taking part for the same reason.

When the Judiciary and the Bar Council haven’t got your back, what are you supposed to do?

I would be striking but as I’m not bankrolled by the Bank of Mum & Dad as some of these youngsters are, and have no safety net, I’m not taking the risk.

(18)(1)

*A Real Barrister.

Scab.

(6)(10)

Depressed

The ignorance in these comments of the realities of the criminal Bar are astounding. With the criminal justice system about to collapse, education system seems to have collapsed already.

(9)(3)

Ignorant Peasant, Apparently

A rude and pompous criminal barrister. What a shock.

(4)(8)

Anon

The reality is that we’ve yet to hear of a criminal barrister admitting to relying on food banks or choosing between heating and eating.

That is literally the reality though for many in the UK. It is insulting the intelligence of the public to suggest that any criminal barristers are anywhere near facing those real hardships.

(3)(6)

The-Masked-Lawyer

Attention Barristers, Journalists, Twitter and Public.

As Barristers are self employed, it is not actually possible to go ‘on strike’.

One simply withdraws one’s presence and availabilty.

One would loathe a picket line, as the champers would warm too much over the firey street brazier, while we burn wood, old shoes and recently received client briefs (paper files, not knickers).

(2)(2)

Comments are closed.

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