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Criminal Defence – the latest victim of reform

Criminal Defence – the latest victim of reform

We have seen a number of changes in the legal market since the beginning of 2013, namely the Jackson Reforms and the cuts in fixed fees through the RTA Portal having huge implications in personal injury resulting in many claimant firms closing or being forced to make redundancies. Legal aid was also removed from most private family law matters and most recently tendering plans affecting criminal defence have been unveiled. Whilst still in consultation, the government’s proposed criminal legal aid reforms to introduce price competitive tendering would mean defendants will lose the right to choose their own lawyer and instead be allocated a representative. For law firms, it will mean a significant consolidation of the market with the number of providers being reduced from 1,600 to 400.

All these changes have certainly had an impact on legal recruitment and we have seen fewer opportunities in claimant personal injury, crime and family law, but roles do exist. In an increasingly competitive market, it is vital candidates applying for vacancies have other unique selling points in addition to a good CV to strengthen their application. Due to the recent changes affecting personal injury, family and crime, roles requiring Higher Rights of Audience, Panel Membership or expertise in a particular niche area such as industrial disease or white collar crime are on the increase. Generally speaking proven business development skills are also highly attractive to a future employer with networking playing an increasingly important part in building long term relationships and fee generation. Commerciality is the new buzz word – regardless of whether you are a newly qualified or a senior associate looking for partnership, you need to think commercially particularly if you are practising in a discipline that is being squeezed from all sides.

Having worked for over 12 years as a legal recruiter, I write with experience. In an ever changing legal landscape, candidates need to be both realistic and flexible to be successful in the job market. Being good just doesn’t cut the mustard!

Please contact Joanne Lack at BCL Legal, a Senior Associate in the private practice team in Birmingham on 0121 230 1841 for a confidential discussion regarding your career or to discuss suitable roles in and around the East and West Midlands or email Joanne Lack

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