As at May 2023, there were 7,849 solicitor firms practicing in England and Wales . Activities such as meeting with clients, drafting legal documents and filing paperwork will be present in all types of firms across the country, regardless of specialism. This article will give you some insight into the goings on behind the door of our boutique criminal defence firm in Victoria, London.
London rumbles to life and so too does the firm.
Occasionally a client has been taken into custody overnight and we are still working on their case into the morning at the police station.
Most Courts will begin their day at 10am. Though it is typically barristers who represent clients in Court, one of our solicitors, Stuart McDonald, has his Higher Rights of Audience qualification. This means he is qualified to conduct advocacy work in the criminal Higher Courts and sometimes acts for the client from the outset of their case at the police station, right through to its conclusion at the Court.
Otherwise, the mornings are a good time to review case files, gather evidence and prepare legal strategies for live cases.
As lunchtime approaches, the solicitors and paralegals may have to leave the office for meetings with clients in prison. While we are based in London, we also serve clients in the Home Counties and surrounding areas. This can mean lots of travelling, but time alone on a train can mean getting your teeth into a tough piece of work.
This time of day is also busiest on the phones. We receive approximately 20 calls and one or two new client enquiries per day. The paralegals and business support staff take as many details as possible from a potential new client and then pass it on to a solicitor, who will be able to decide whether this is a case the firm is able to take on.
Clients come into the office for meetings with their solicitor or join a conference with both their solicitor and barrister present. We have lots of visitors to our offices, so it is important we provide a clean, safe and pleasant place to meet with others.
If a case has concluded at Court and there is no desire to appeal, it is prudent for us to start bringing the matter to a close within the firm. This includes writing up a closing letter to the client, drawing up a final bill and archiving the file. Nick Gay, Senior Legal Executive, is responsible not only for his own clients, but this process too.
The evening looks different depending on the role within the firm. Solicitors will often have to stay late, as the evening is the only time they get away from speaking with clients to get on with their other work.
The paralegals stay until their work is done, which can be as soon as the workday is over, or sometimes into the evening supporting a solicitor on an urgent matter. One of the most important evening jobs for the paralegals is to check the Court listings for the next day and inform any clients when and where they are supposed to be for their upcoming hearing.
Every so often there is an industry event to attend, whether that is a black-tie gala, educational webinar, or dinner with other solicitors and barristers. Namita Pawa, Managing Director, sits on the Women in Criminal Law Committee which aims to support and empower women in this industry.
Criminal law is a dynamic and demanding industry to be in, but one that is immensely rewarding. No two days are the same in our office, but that is precisely why we have chosen to practice in this field.
Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.