The Briefs: My short reaction

Posted: 02/08/2012 in Barrister, Legal aid, Solicitor, Trainee solicitor, TV

I said as a caveat on twitter that Tuckers is not a typical firm. That’s for two reasons: (1) they’re national, (2) they do virtually all their advocacy in-house. They are the type of firm that the Government want to replicate, because they hope eventually they’ll be able to get them to contract out large amounts of the system and squeeze them.

That said, my first ever brief was from Tuckers….!

And of course, they are the biggest recipient of criminal legal aid in the country.

Personal touch

When you watch Frank Sinclair visiting the 63 year old woman accused of drug dealing you know why Tuckers is a success. Like all good businesses, they look after their customers.  There is no doubt that the vast majority of my clients do not choose their solicitor because of their legal prowess but instead because of the relationship they enjoy with them.

90% of Tuckers work is returning customers.

Coleen’s camera

Well forget if the jury believe this chap, the narrator sure as hell doesn’t.

‘I’m pleading not guilty anyway’ – we’re not like doctors, people all too often don’t take our advice.

We need more quantity

That’s what worries me. ‘We need more quantity’ says head of the police station reps team. But, they’re not going to get any more staff. This is simply put the worry – that quality it put at risk by the need to increase quantity.

This isn’t going to be a problem for just Tuckers but for all our firms.

To maintain their income levels their staff are going to be expected to increase their caseloads.

Governments cut fees, they’re going to cut quality.

 Has he got a current mobile

I would say 25 to 30% of my legal aid Magistrates’ Court clients did not turn up to their criminal trials. We would always make the same call to the solicitors, ‘hi, you got a mobile?’

The disconnected number message and tone is a familiar sound.

Who do they believe on the day

People often don’t believe me when I tell them this, the evidence of one person is enough to make magistrates sure that you are guilty.

Juries… less so

Personally, one word against another – no other evidence,  it should rarely result in a conviction. Being ‘sure’ is a high threshold, although it seems a lot lower in the Magistrates.

The prosecution want to adjourn their case because they have no witnesses

Damn right the Magistrates ought not be adjourning these matters. The public really need to see what goes on in Magistrates’ Court. They need to see what the CPS actually do.

Not warning witnesses to attend? That’s basic. That’s the next step on from, getting the prosecutor to Court.

Feel quite deflated

At the end of Briefs episode 1, I feel quite deflated. It has certainly been very accurate in some respects but not in others. ITV have certainly spun the programme as ‘everybody is guilty’.

The Defendants shown as well are not likely to garner that much sympathy from the general public. Perhaps it’s worth noting that several of our clients are just like you, not alcoholics, or elderly drugs pushers. Although I had the twinge, when she said ‘you’ll be alright Dad’.

I also, and I really mean this, find the fact that Soham: A Parents’ Tale being advertised throughout really lacks taste.

My end conclusion, a very ITV take on our world and no doubt not reflecting on all the good work that criminal defence lawyers do nor the fact that not everyone is guilty.




  1. essexandrew says:

    Thanks for writing about this, I am out of it now.

    However, I think there is another point of view to refusing an adjournment first date of trial when CPS has messed up.

    Obviously CPS shouldn’t have messed up and at least should have reviewed pre trial and perhaps forewarned Defence they were not ready, but the main thing is the victim is let down. I suspect CPS not being ready is no one person’s fault but an issue of resources and management

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