Posts Tagged ‘ Solicitors ’


FUNNY HOW ONE LITTLE WORD CAN LEAD TO A SENTENCE!

Written by admin
March 18th, 2019

Yet again today I had the unfortunate experience of sitting in a Crown Court watching a client, who obviously thought that he had done a good deal, and discovering that the deal in question had unexpected consequences.

Without naming the individual or even the court, the story involves a man charged with assault, damage and theft. The offences were alleged in a domestic context and it seemed clear that until today they had been vehemently denied.

Those representing the individual had blatantly negotiated on his behalf with the Crown Prosecution Service that they would discontinue an assault and a theft if he pleaded to a criminal damage. The client, having received only who knows what advice, plainly decided that the deal on offer was good and would bring matters to a swift conclusion.

Unfortunately, nobody seemed to have reminded the defendant that it wasn’t just a question of him saying the word “guilty” and walking away. When he pleaded “guilty” there was inevitably going to have to be some sort of consequence.

In this particular case, the damage amounted to some many hundreds of pounds and involved items of a sentimental nature. The court decided that the defendant ought in fact to receive a custodial sentence, albeit that that sentence could be suspended. The suspended sentence was to be accompanied by some unpaid work and a short curfew. The suspended term, the unpaid work, and the curfew, all plainly came as some sort of surprise to the man in the dock, who it seemed believed that he would be thanked for his trouble and given his taxi fare home having done the decent thing and allowed the case to be brought to an end.

I was left to reflect just how many defendants, when reaching a compromise with the Crown Prosecution Service, actually forget that they will then still have to be sentenced in some way for the matters that they are actually admitting. Equally, I wonder how many solicitors or learned counsel take the trouble to remind their clients of the effect that their guilty pleas may have on them in the future. It is not just a question of them having a criminal record rather than not, but also that criminal record may affect employment prospects, credit ratings, an ability to travel to certain countries, and their standing with social services and adoption agencies, to mention just a few.

Make sure that if you are doing any sort of deals your lawyers take the trouble to explain to you in the detail that our lawyers would about the consequences of any “deals” that you may choose to enter into.

WOMEN IN CRIMINAL LAW

Written by admin
March 14th, 2019

On Thursday, 7th February 2019 The Johnson Partnership applied to be the principle sponsors for the East Midlands launch of Women in Criminal Law. Speakers at the meeting held at Jury’s Inn included Mrs Justice Carr, Mary Prior, Queens Counsel, and Janine Smith, Chief Crown Prosecutor.

The evening included an inclusive gathering from women from the very top of the legal profession right through to those just out of law school.

More meetings are planned in the forthcoming months both in the East and West Midlands and the number of those in attendance was particularly encouraging.

A number of staff reflected on one particularly unexpected incident. A senior member of the group and speaker at the event strolled over to a group of young women all of whom were from The Johnson Partnership. She asked them where they were from and then went on to query whether they were all paralegals. Bearing in mind the group included trainees, Partners, and assistant solicitors they were left to reflect that a patronising approach to the young is plainly not gender-specific. Oh well, there’s always one!

We continue to wish the Women in Criminal Law group well and will be happy to offer support of all kinds whether it be from Partners, solicitors, trainees or indeed paralegals!

Crouching Tiger, Sauntering Dragon

Written by admin
December 19th, 2018

Inevitable comparisons have to be drawn between the recent departures from high office of the Sports Minister, Tracy Crouch and the former DPP, Alison Saunders.

Alison Saunders maintained both publicly and in meetings with members of the Bar, the judiciary and solicitors that the prosecution service benefited from adequate funding throughout her time as DPP. She talked about structural reform and organisational re-organisation, but never challenged her Alistrol masters and mistresses. Only after her final salary cheque was in the bank and her pension was safe for all time, did she dare to say what everyone else had been saying for the last five years.

Tracey Crouch however gave up a well-paid government job and returned to the back benches as soon as it became apparent that fixed odds betting terminals were to remain the scourge of high street betting shops until October 1919.

The comments of both will of course have brought to the attention of the public and the government the issues surrounding both Crown Prosecution Service funding and revenue to be derived from gambling machines. Nevertheless, the personal integratory and long and short term respect for Tracey Crouch must be at an insurmountable high, while Alison Saunders is left wondering whether those who have argued for her to receive no honours list award will have their way.

For those of us in the professions, for victims of crime, for court users, for witnesses and for the sake of the whole judicial process, we can only hope that Max Hill is not as tongue-tied as his predecessor and if necessary will press the Tracey Crouch nuclear button.

AWARD FOR FRAUDS

Written by admin
August 20th, 2018

In recent years more and more firms of solicitors are claiming to have been awarded batches of excellence of tokens of recognition for the work they do for the people they employ.  Some of these are entirely proper and are well recognised Kitemarks such as the SQM (Specialist Quality Mark) or the Lexcel Accreditation.  Some awards are slightly less transparent!  The “East Midlands Best Advocate”, the “North East Best Practice Manager”, the “Most Go Ahead Medium Sized Firm in the Manchester Area” might all lead to a sceptically raised eyebrow.

The true worth, and may we say voracity of some of the claims made on a number of websites are a matter for a certain amount of speculation.

Who decided?  Who applied?  What is “The North East”?  When was the decision made?  How often is the competition run?  How rigorously monitored is the award process?  Is it all really a load of hogwash or claptrap?  How stupid do we think the public really are?

At The Johnson Partnership we reckon we prefer rewards to awards!  We reckon the best reward that we can have day in day out is a satisfied client and we hope you will agree that’s worth a bucket load of multi-coloured rosettes.

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!

TIME TO STRESS ABOUT MENTAL WELLBEING

Written by admin
July 13th, 2018

It is a sad truth that criminal law is less and less attractive in many respects for new arrivals in the profession. Rates of pay are relatively meagre. Hours of work are prodigious. Working conditions, around police stations, prisons, hospitals and desperate conditions in clients’ homes, are some of the worst.

Throughout the last two or three years a new problem has started to emerge which is perhaps more alarming than all the rest. Both at the bar and in solicitors’ offices throughout the area, more and more professionals are having to take time away from work to cope with mental health difficulties.

For some, it is simply the volume of work, which, increases as we have to do more to avoid earning considerably less.

For some, it is the constant drag of the sort of work that they are having to confront day in day out. In particular, the growth in the number of historic allegations of sexual abuse is something that has taken its toll on a number of practitioners.

For some, the pressure of examinations, when combined with a heavy case load has simply been too much.

There can be no doubting that firms are going to have to take a real interest in the work and home lives of staff to try to avoid problems mounting up. Stress and anxiety can turn a happy life into a living hell. If staff or partners are unable to talk about the difficulties they are experiencing firms will just be creating the sort of problems that are likely to mean that any time and money spent on training and professional development is likely to be thrown away.

A caring, friendly, open environment is going to be absolutely essential if we are going to be able to retain skill, knowledge and expertise within our criminal colleagues.

THE INS AND OUTS OF LEICESTER

Written by Sian Hall
March 15th, 2018

Isn’t it strange how some journeys are just “too much”. Geographically it may be exactly the same length as innumerable, comparable journeys, but one way or another they never work.

This particular predicament has been highlighted by us being offered the services of not one but two Leicester based solicitors who are looking to jump ship and move firm. Both solicitors are high quality candidates at different points in successful careers. With a Nottingham or Derby base, there could be no doubt that we would be delighted to avail ourselves of their services. Sadly, however, bitter experience shows that a life spent travelling between Leicester and Nottingham or Leicester and Derby tends to be a short one and not a particularly merry one.

Servicing police stations in Leicester never seems to be a problem. To reach into Leicester to attend a police station or at the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court has never been a difficulty. Reaching out from Leicester to do a job based in Derby or Nottingham is something that has just never worked. Derby to Nottingham: yes! Nottingham to Derby: Yes! Nottingham to Lincoln (a longer journey): Yes! But Leicester to Nottingham or Leicester to Derby: just “No”.

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