Posts Tagged ‘ Duty solicitor ’


PHASED WITHDRAWAL

Written by admin
March 25th, 2019

Within the area of the country covered by The Johnson Partnership offices we have noticed an interesting if worrying phenomenon.

In the town of Buxton there used to be a thriving Magistrates’ Court and a custody suite which covered the entirety of the northwest of Derbyshire from Matlock to Glossop and from Hartington over to Baslow. This is a huge area of land and a good number of people in its radius.

In the second round of cuts, the Magistrates’ Court, which has long since served this thriving market town was closed. Work was transferred to Chesterfield stage by stage. Initially custody cases were transferred to Chesterfield and then there was a total closure leading to all matters being heard in a court over thirty miles away, with no train link between the two and a somewhat ponderous bus service.

The next step was for the custody suite to be downgraded. Increasingly, prisoners who were likely to be in custody for more than six hours, were being dealt with at Chesterfield rather than Buxton. Inevitably, it soon became a police station where a vast majority of interviewees were those attending on a voluntary basis.

The Duty Solicitor Scheme for Buxton has slowly been wound down. Solicitors have to choose their slots on either the Chesterfield or Stockport rotas.

We now therefore have a town with no court, no meaningful custody suite, no Duty Solicitor Scheme, and very very few solicitors serving that entire region.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

Written by admin
September 28th, 2018

Many thought that by 2018 the “ghost busting” regulations in the 2017 Criminal Contract would have seized taking any real affects. All those ghost duty Solicitors who claimed to be working diligently, albeit out of sight, and to a large extent out of mind, were flushed out by the 14 hour a week rule.

Duty Solicitor rotas shrank. Venerable names from long ago disappeared from members lists. Duty Solicitor slots started to come round with disconcerting regularity. No longer were people being paid £12,000.00 a year for the use of their name on a rota which might yield no more than 2 or 3 opportunities to work as a Duty Solicitor within a 6 month period.

Some fell on their swords. Some were put to the sword by competitors. Some were hacked away by the very Firm who long resented being haunted by their ghostly grasping presence, but who daren’t send for an Exorcist for the fear of losing market share.

Incredibly, however, the slaughter of the not so innocent continues. As a the regular annual audit round takes place, more and more questions are being asked by politely enquiring contract Managers about the compliance records of those appearing on the staff list. Managing Partners who are just too busy to make it to the Police Station, retirees who were thinking of putting in the odd appearance but have not quite made it, Solicitors who are now, oh so busy, learning about new areas of practice, but have forgotten where they came from have all been sent off to the land of the living dead.

By the end of the Contract in 2022 you can’t however think that the majority of Duty Solicitors will either be in nappies or suffering from the early onset of some debilitating mental condition.

The prospect of having to do 3, 4 or 5 times the number of Duty Solicitor shifts that we were doing in 2016 maybe a lucrative one but also one that is unappealing to present and a positive turn off for potential recruits.

MEAKIN MAKES GOOD

Written by admin
August 26th, 2018

There was never any doubt that Karl Meakin was going to be a true asset to the firm as a young solicitor.

Karl has had ten years’ experience with the firm in many different capacities.  In the summer of 2018 Karl is finally able to demonstrate his full potential as a Duty Solicitor.

Having been admitted to the role earlier in the year Karl has made it onto the first possible duty rota, even though it has been at some personal cost.

The limited number of occasions on which it is possible to take the Magistrates’ Court qualification examination led to some madcap chasing around for Karl.  The qualification exam coincided with the day on which he was to be attending at Chancery Lane for his admission ceremony.  Mad dashes to Liverpool and then a high speed race to London to make both appointments left Karl worn out and in need of a restorative drink or two.

We cannot thank Karl enough for all his efforts, both this year and in the past, and we wish him all the best as a rising star of the Chesterfield office.

ADVERTISING PUFF!

Written by admin
August 15th, 2018

The relaxation of restrictions on solicitors’ advertising has led to a world of change.  There will be those who regard it as unseemly and demeaning, to see solicitors claim to be “The best”, “The Cheapest”, “The Fastest”, etc., etc.

In recent times solicitors have claimed to be “The Most Caring”, “Friendly and Discreet” and, although you might think it would go without saying, “Professional”.

At The Johnson Partnership we have spent a lot of time wondering exactly what we ought to be claiming for ourselves.  Perhaps we should emphasise that we are “Any time, any place, anywhere”, like a good Martini.  Perhaps we should claim to “Put the freshness back” into law, although that might make us sound like a 1980’s Shake & Vac advert.  You could imagine there being a great deal of hilarity among the marketing partners.

On balance, and all things considered, what we reckon we would like to be as a firm of solicitors, is what British Airways used to claim they were as an airline which is of course “The World’s Favourite”.  When all is said and done, it is hard to disprove!

A TALE OF TWO RACHELS!

Written by Sian Hall
January 30th, 2018

Clients contacting our Scunthorpe or Grimsby offices may well now face a new question: Would you like to speak to Rachel Hunter or Rachel Poma?”

Having long had the pleasure of the company of the experience, warm, caring, and ultimately capable Rachel Hunter, we now have a second Rachel in town.

In January we were fortunate enough to secure the services of Rachel Poma, nee Pullin. Rachel has previously worked on a qualified and non-qualified basis with at least two local firms, but we are delighted to say that she has agreed to join The Johnson Partnership, dividing her time between the Scunthorpe and Grimsby offices.

Rachel is an enthusiastic duty solicitor, with great ideas and a lovely court presence. We look forward to Rachel getting to know both us and our clients, as well as introducing us to many of her old friends and contacts. We count ourselves incredibly lucky to have secured Rachel’s services, in an area where there are relatively few enthusiastic, young and hardworking advocates.

THE GHOST TRAIN BECOMES THE LOVE TRAIN

Written by Sian Hall
November 23rd, 2017

As another date for submission of CDS12 form disappears over the horizon we are left reflecting on how different it is now to recruit new duty solicitors.  In short, all the criteria has changed.

Under the new 2017 Contract it is no longer sufficient to have somebody who will turn up to perform the obligatory amount of court and police station appearances while primarily working as freelance on their own account or even, who knows, as Tesco shelf stacker.

The new way is to bring somebody in for two or three days a week to ensure that they have their 14 hours carefully logged and stashed away for checking.

The October submission date saw us involve ourselves in lengthy interviews with a number of people, who we all hoped would be suitable recruits.

The new system brings with it closer scrutiny and a real consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of a duty solicitor candidate.  On this occasion it would be fair and honest to say that we had interviewed and made offers to three people who decided not to join us, but stay where they were.  Equally, we interviewed another three people at considerable length, to whom we decided not to make an offer.  The time invested in the recruitment process was quite significant particularly when this entails ticking fee-earning Partners away from their day to day labours.

We are delighted to say, however, that we have been successful in recruiting two wholly new duty solicitors as well as the lovely Helen Nicholson who will be returning to the fold.  All in all, the process has been an interesting and very enlightening one on a great many levels.

GOLD FOR GOULD

Written by Sian Hall
October 26th, 2017

Ellie Gould, who has been with the firm for the last five years, has swept through her duty solicitor qualifications without a backwards glance. Having qualified in July of this year, after substantial Magistrates’ Court experience, Ellie completed all the stages of duty solicitor qualification in a matter of weeks.  Her 25 case portfolio, following by a rigorous face-to-face examination involving obtaining instructions, preparing and making a plea in mitigation as well as an application for bail, posed no problem for a women who has literally spent thousands of hours assisting in the Magistrates’ Court.

 

We look forward to Ellie finding her own niche among our diverse and well-experienced Nottingham Magistrates’ Court team.

CONTINUOUS COVER FOR SCUNTHORPE

Written by Will Bolam
May 17th, 2017

With the combining of the Grimsby and Scunthorpe duty solicitor rotas, local solicitors have had a choice to make! It is not possible for a particular solicitor to be on the police station rotas for both Grimsby and Scunthorpe. All of the solicitors who are on either of these two rotas are eligible to appear as duty solicitor at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court, but they can only be on the rota as duty solicitor at the police station of their choice. The closure of the Scunthorpe custody suite for temporary refurbishment meant that many solicitors opted to be part of the Grimsby rota leaving Scunthorpe with relatively little cover.

Mindful of our longstanding commitment to the town of Scunthorpe The Johnson Partnership made a conscious decision to ensure that we still provided duty solicitor cover at Scunthorpe Police Station. At the moment, a third of the duty solicitors available to service clients in Scunthorpe come from our firm.

Those solicitors who assumed that the refurbishment of the custody suite could mean there was no work available for a duty solicitor in Scunthorpe have been proven wrong. The increase in voluntary interviews, for which duty solicitor services are still available, and the use of the police station for short stay prisoners and on bail backs has meant there is still a continuous flow of work to be looked after.

It will be interesting to see how many solicitors decide that they need to pay Scunthorpe the attention that it deserves when the new rota is published on 1st July 2017.

DMJ

FAREWELL TO FIRM FRIENDS

Written by Will Bolam
May 8th, 2017

The 2017 Criminal Contract has brought with it many changes and demands. Some of the principle changes have been centred around the qualifications required from and the demands made of duty solicitors.

Attending at least twelve police stations, at least twelve Magistrates’ Court hearings, and another twelve attendances that can be made up at police stations, Magistrates’ Court appearance or Crown Court appearances, has upped the ante somewhat for would-be duty solicitors. The solicitors have to work on legal aid contract work for a minimum of 14 hours every week, is something that has also given many pause for thought.

The fact that these 14 hours have to be carried out from the office at which the solicitor is, is something that has been a further challenged. The obligation for solicitors to accept and attend police station cases on four of their assigned duty slots around the year is something which should present no problem, but again something which seems to have caused consternation.

A number of our oldest and finest former colleagues have simply decided that the new regulations are too demanding. Rather than attempting the impossible, eleven former colleagues have decided to bow out gracefully before the start of the April rota.

We would like to thank them for all their endeavours and their commitment to the firm over many years. All can rest assured that if the spirit moves them to re-dedicate themselves to criminal legal aid work, we would be delighted to have them back on board.

Thanks again and stay in touch one and all!

DMJ

LINKED-IN IN LINCOLN

Written by Will Bolam
May 2nd, 2017

Well, it’s happened! The Lincoln office is finally open for business. Phone lines installed. Desks erected. Filing cabinets primed and ready for action.

It is hard to express just how exciting it is to start a new office from scratch. The last time that The Johnson Partnership opened an office that wasn’t linked to an existing practice was July 1st 1990 when we first opened as a firm.

Taking us back to those early days of counting up how many police station cases we have dealt with and court appearances we have attended by week. Horrible disappointments of case-less days and the wild excitement of having to bring in more people to cope with the sudden influx are almost too much to bear.

The unbridled enthusiasm of Vicki Clayton and her team is a joy to behold. There can be no group of legal professionals who are as desperately dedicated to providing a class client service as The Johnson Partnership Lincoln squad.

The desire to make something work both from scratch is undoubtedly one of the most powerful drivers in any service industry.

With help available from the Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Mansfield, and Nottingham offices the Lincoln team know there is a massive reservoir of help at hand as well as a big crowd waiting to cheer their success.

Live Chat