Solicitors and Legal Aid

by McKenzie on November 20, 2009

in England and Wales Family Law,McKenzie Friend Comment

Story here about legal aid solicitors getting paid less than sewage workers and prison officers.

I am sorry to sound unsympathetic, but I don’t see the linkage between legal aid rates for solicitors and the salary that solicitors receive?

From a business perspective it is up to a firm to decide what to pay their solicitors and also what mix if any of legal aid and private paying work to take on. If any business takes on loss leading or low margin work, it is not the state’s responsibility to interfere with the business choices made by a business owner or owners.

I often wonder what training (if any) solicitors have had in running a business, and whether your average firm has SEO people, marketers, accountants and others in house? Of course the big firms have and they reap the benefits of that approach. For those who say that they cant afford in-house people then sub the work out to people from Elance or People per Hour.

I hear the argument that people will not have access to justice if lawyers desert legal aid work in their droves but I don’t accept that a representation wasteland is necessarily what’s left. The state should provide lawyers directly for such cases, and not sub-contract this work out to what I imagine are tens of thousands of Legal Aid suppliers as at present. The economies of scale don’t make sense for anyone and as the State holds all the data needed to check eligibility it takes out the middleman or woman.

There is little doubt that the State needs kept in check, no matter which party or parties are in power, and it goes without saying that any cases where the state is a party the lawyers should not come from the state pool, and that strategically important work should be at rates that doesn’t make the work seem unattractive to the best lawyers.

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