I have been a member of the solicitors’ profession for 28 years. Unfortunately, I have been unable to work for the past two years because of illness. I am currently without income and have minimal savings.
Having recovered from four bouts of surgery, I recently decided to reapply for my practising certificate. I asked the SRA to consider exempting me from the relevant fee to enable me to get back on my feet and seek employment again. I wanted it to take into account my unfortunate circumstances and to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ because of this.
This was met with what I can only describe as a blank refusal, with the SRA indicating that I should contact the SBA [The Solicitors’ Charity] for assistance.
I must say that, in this day and age, I find this attitude towards a member of this learned profession unacceptable, particularly as I always paid my PC fees throughout my 28 years as a solicitor, until my health issues prevented this.
Partly as a result of this entrenched attitude, I have sought transfer to the bar and will soon be a fully qualified barrister. The BSB granted me exemptions from all its relevant fees to enable me to do so.
I am also a higher-rights solicitor-advocate, but am now ashamed of this once great profession.
What is the solicitors’ profession coming to? A ‘caring profession’? I think not.
Stephen K Hargreaves, Blackburn