A criminal duty solicitor in her 20s is among the latest victims of the government's legal aid cuts, it emerged today.
The solicitor, known as @LegalAidLass on Twitter, posted on the social media site that, after three years with her current high street firm, 'I have been told that my entire office and crime team are being made redundant due to legal aid not being as profitable. It hurts'.
The solicitor said: 'I am in my 20s. I am a criminal duty solicitor and supervisor already. I have worked exclusively and passionately in legal aid (including mental health and prison law) since university for over 7 years...and now I am redundant. I graduated from a red brick uni with a 2.1. Got a distinction in the LPC. Worked tirelessly in legal aid. Became a mental health tribunal member, duty solicitor and supervisor. Now redundant in my 20s and need a job by the next CRM12 deadline in less than three weeks...'
The CRM12 is a government application form that firms submit detailing nominated duty solicitors.
Today's news will be a particular blow for the criminal defence community, which faces a looming crisis. A Law Society heatmap of duty solicitor coverage shows that in several parts of England and Wales, a majority of criminal law specialists are over 50, and that few young solicitors are choosing the specialism.
The Ministry of Justice has embarked on a wider review of criminal legal aid fees, saying that it wants to reform the fee schemes to support market sustainability. However, the report will not be ready until late 2020.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which came into force in 2013, has had a devastating impact on both civil and criminal law. Swansea firm TA Law, which has helped 90,000 vulnerable people over the past decade, closed this month.