Lawyer salary

Solicitors on salaries of £58,000 ‘paid incredibly poorly’, says City solicitor amid backlog of cases warning

Criminal lawyers who typically earn a salary of £58,000 are ‘incredibly poorly paid’ for the volume of work they do, a City solicitor has said.

Michelle Heeley QC said the lawyers were working 50 hours a week as ‘standard’, adding it was ‘not surprising’ they were leaving the bar at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic had exacerbated existing pressure on their workload.

The Midlands Circuit chief, from Erdington, has reacted to recent figures revealing that delays in criminal prosecutions have reached 708 days for the average time it takes from infringement to completion of the case – in up 15% in the three months to last September. year.

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Ms Heeley, a solicitor at No5 Barristers’ Chambers, said she was “appalled” by the statistics describing them as “an unforgivable failure for victims, defendants, legal professionals, as well as the British public”.

She added: “The impact of this delay is monumental. During this waiting period, there is significant pressure on all parties. Victims are left without justice and witnesses’ memories begin to fade, which can have serious repercussions when they are called to testify.



Michelle Heeley QC, Midlands Circuit Leader and Solicitor at No5 Barristers’ Chambers.

“Although the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, practitioners have warned the government of the growing delay and ever-growing backlog of Crown courts for several years.”

There is currently a massive backlog of approximately 60,000 Crown court cases. Recently, the Department of Justice announced that magistrates’ sentencing powers would be increased from six months to 12 months for a single offence, which should free up up to 2,000 court days per year.

They also pointed to other measures such as the establishment of Nightingale courtrooms, “super courtrooms” for large trials and virtual courtrooms.

Ms Heeley, addressing the issue of pay, said criminal lawyers earned an average ‘pre-tax profit’ of around £18,400 in their first three years in practice, while the average salary for those starting out in the senior juniors was £58,000.

She urged the government to heed the recommendations of a recent report on the lack of judges and “low pay rates for criminal lawyers” and said: “There is no short-term solution to this problem. Although Nightingale Courts and Super Courts have been open to help reduce the backlog, we have passed the point of no return.

“It’s no surprise that many criminal lawyers choose to leave the bar. Criminal lawyers are incredibly poorly paid for the incredibly time-consuming work they do, and the pressure placed on them by this ever-increasing number is a contributing factor. contributes to our dwindling numbers.”

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