Who? Katy Hanson, managing director of Welch & Co Solicitors.
Why is she in the news? In a BBC interview about the Law Society’s warning that criminal duty solicitors could become extinct, Hanson said she was forced to keep on a member of staff who wanted to retire because she could not find someone to replace them.
Thoughts: ‘Having worked in large cities, I am lucky enough to now manage a multi-disciplinary firm on the Pembrokeshire/Ceredigion border. The Law Society heat map shows that the average age of duty solicitors nationwide is 47. In Ceredigion 60% of duty solicitors are over 60. There are concerns about provision of legal aid services in rural areas, with the likelihood of firms being unable to service legal aid contracts due to the anticipated recruitment crisis. This is set to become a nationwide crisis. A Freedom of Information request recently revealed that only 0.3% of new entrants told the SRA they would be undertaking criminal work.’
Dealing with the media: ‘It has been difficult to get the media interested in the legal aid crisis. Therefore, it was important to engage when the BBC asked for information and to explain why access to justice is so important. There seems to have been a recent change of approach by the media, who recognise that the criminal justice system is crumbling.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I did work experience with Simons Muirhead and Burton aged 15. It was an eye-opening and varied week. Afterwards I decided criminal law was the only job for me.’
Career high: ‘When you know that justice has been served and your client has been found not guilty due to your hard work. Anyone can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and being able to help people through the maze of the system is ultimately rewarding.’
Career low: ‘The despondency and apathy of criminal defence lawyers is worrying. People are leaving private practice for the CPS because of better pay and conditions. Firms are handing back legal aid contracts and young lawyers are told there is no future in criminal law. This will soon impact on the integrity of our justice system. Governments have cut legal aid spending to a level at which it is no longer sustainable.’