A day in the life of the co-founder of Lawtons Solicitors, a leading criminal defence firm, ranked as a national leader in criminal defence work by Chambers & Partners.
Solicitor advocate Stephen Halloran is co-founder of Lawtons Solicitors, a leading criminal defence firm with offices in London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex.
Stephen is a former President of the Hertfordshire Law Society and has provided legal insight to a range of media outlets including the BBC and national newspapers. He told The Brief about a typical day at the firm he helped to build.
My fellow director Nick Titchener and I founded Lawtons Solicitors in 2004, and we have since grown to become one of the largest specialist criminal solicitors firms in London and the home counties. Offices in London, St Albans, Luton, Cambridge, Milton Keynes and several other locations have extended our reach, and we are taking on an increasing number of private crime cases, in addition to legal aid work.
As one of the most senior members of our team, I tend to take on some of the more challenging or complex cases we deal with.
The variety of cases is something I really enjoy and it certainly ensures no two days are ever the same. At any one time the firm could be representing clients in cases involving murder, rape, money laundering, fraud or drug offences, to name but a few.
No matter what the case is, who the defendant is or where in the country we’re working, the one thing that remains constant is that clients are trusting us with their futures.
Practising during a pandemic
In common with organisations in every industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact upon our firm – and the wider legal field.
Personally, I occasionally work from home, but I go into the office most days. Of course, I also spend a good amount of time in police stations and court.
Cloud Video Platform
However, COVID-19 has caused a shift towards widespread use of the Cloud Video Platform (CVP) for hearings, which has changed the working day for solicitors everywhere. One day I attended hearings in North Tyneside, Cornwall and Lincolnshire.
Before the pandemic, we would have had different members of the team attending each of those hearings, so CVP has given our clients complete continuity of service. It’s been much easier for us to cover cases over a really wide geographic area.
An even greater impact of the pandemic, though, has been the chronic delays caused by lockdowns. Complainants, witnesses and defendants alike are all experiencing anxiety as court dates are postponed.
From our point of view, we’re still trying to clear a backlog of work as new cases come in.
One case that we were able to bring to a close recently was a youth rape case, which was heard at a magistrate’s court in south London. It was originally scheduled for last year, but was rearranged because of COVID-19 and only started in late April. The defendant was acquitted.
I’m currently representing two more young people in a murder case, whose trial will begin in July. I’ve recently met with them in person, which is preferable with young defendants, even against the backdrop of the pandemic.
Today, I’ve been refining notes taken from that meeting, which, as any solicitor will tell you, is a huge part of the job.
I also have around 8,000 pages of case work to review for a high-profile drug and money-laundering case. It involves EncroChat, an encrypted messaging service that law enforcement authorities in France and Belgium were able to crack. Users of EncroChat have been arrested across the UK and mainland Europe.
Alongside these cases, we have clients accused of possessing indecent images, drink-driving and fraud. We are also seeing cases related to the pandemic, with instances of fraud relating to the furlough scheme and bounce back loans.
As you can appreciate, we definitely have our hands full at Lawtons. Although the pandemic and lockdowns have changed the way we work in some respects, our daily routines are still focused on giving our clients the best possible legal representation.
In many cases, it’s about ensuring innocent people are acquitted of crimes they didn’t commit, so it really makes your day when we get that outcome.
Connect with Stephen Halloran on LinkedIn