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Changes in criminal legal aid

We have recently been speaking to the market about the upcoming changes to criminal practice and how this will impact on the market over the coming months.

There has been so much publicity and outcry from the community of criminal lawyers surrounding this with fears the changes including price-competitive tendering for legal aid contracts undermining Britain’s reputation for upholding justice.

Many feel that the introduction of competitive tendering will destroy the livelihoods of many smaller solicitors’ firms. With the aim of slashing £220m out of criminal legal aid we have started to have a surge of worried lawyers looking at other options available. This article is worth a read which looks at the issue: http://www.theguardian.com/.

With labour promising to put a stop to this radical change in the criminal justice system the next few months will certainly be an interesting time with us all waiting with baited breathe to see what happens. http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/.

The Legal Aid Agency, which operates the contracts, expects the criminal law market to undergo a process of mergers and consolidation, resulting in significant savings. So we are expecting over coming weeks to find many smaller firms closing or merging and many criminal lawyers looking at alternative roles. Some believe High street solicitor firms will die off and be replaced by massive legal warehouses which take out the heart and soul of the criminal law. It is believed it will become increasingly common to see quick-fix guilty pleas which reflect the profit margins rather than the strength of the case against the accused.

Having spoken to many criminal lawyers over the past few weeks the feel is that many at the larger organisations will stay put for now and reconsider options after the election and this review. For those in smaller firms I think the atmosphere is most definitely one of uncertainty and dread.

For more information please contact Joanna Marklove or visit our website BCL Legal.

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