I am an experienced immigration Solicitor living off my overdraft

icon_14633I am a Solicitor with 4.5 years’ experience post qualification.

I represent vulnerable immigration clients such as victims of trafficking and those detained under immigration powers. The clients I represent are often detained for long periods of time when they cannot be removed from the United Kingdom and where they are unsuitable for detention. I assist them by conducting often complex challenges in the High Court. 

I also supervise a team of 5 other staff. I spend long hours in the office and frequently carry on the work when I get home, at weekends and when on annual leave. The work can be stressful due to the urgency of the work, such as when an injunction is required to prevent an unlawful removal or to secure a person’s release from detention.

I have a student loan of £12,000 and a professional studies loan of £5000, both of which I am still paying off. I started my career as a paralegal with a salary of £14,000 in London. Despite reaching the grand old age of 30 I still live off my overdraft and have no savings.

I am worried about the cuts to legal aid as they will deny justice to scores of vulnerable individuals.

Piggy Bank designed by Stephanie Wauters from the Noun Project

I am a 26 year old Paralegal who can’t afford to move out my parents’ home

icon_26189I am a 26 year old Paralegal. I work for a public law team earning £14,060 pa. Public law involves any claim against a public body, such as a local authority or the prison service (these cases are known as “judicial review”).

A typical work day for me can include visiting clients in order to take instructions and provide advice. I often have to travel out to visit the client if they are in custody or are unable to travel to the office due to mental and/or physical disabilities and other complex needs. I need to communicate complex areas of law to often very vulnerable and distressed clients, which  requires a great deal of understanding and means spending additional time with them.

I might then conduct research in diverse areas of law – from Parole Board criteria for the release of life sentence prisoners to a local authority’s policies in relation to Special Guardianship payments. It takes experience and analysis to apply this research to the facts of a client’s case.

I’ll typically spend some time drafting and sending formal letters to the defendant, completing legal aid funding applications, preparing bundles of papers to issue (start) a case in court, and/or drafting instructions to barristers.

The kind of firm I work for, practicing public law, does not generally pay for the large fees law students have to pay to take professional law courses. This is in contrast to many corporate firms which can afford to sponsor prospective trainees. As a result, I am in approximately £28,000 of debt consisting of an £8,000 private bank loan and £20,000 of student debt.  Given my low salary I am not currently in a position to make student loan repayments but I do make bank loan repayments of £139 a month and will do so for the next 8 years. As a result of this I am unable, at the age of 26, to move out of my parents’ home. I simply cannot afford to live independently whilst also maintaining ownership of my car which is a requirement for my role.

The government’s cuts to legal aid will be so damaging because they will leave already vulnerable clients who have already been disproportionately affected by other cuts, and who often have very difficult life circumstances, without good quality legal recourse for legitimate grievances.

House designed by Lil Squid from the Noun Project

 

I am a family law paralegal in debt by £30k

icon_18080I am a paralegal practicing public and private family law. I earn £15,000 pa.

My caseload is split quite evenly between legal aid and private family law cases. This means I assist parents where a local authority is involved in the care of their children. I also support clients who are in a dispute with a former partner regarding their children.

In a typical day, I will undertake at least one court hearing and see at least one new client. The nature of the work means that events can happen very quickly and clients often come to me in a very distressed and panicked state. Where a local authority has become involved, for example care proceedings are underway, the clients I see are at a real crisis point.

In providing prompt and definitive advice, as urgently as possible, clients often say that they feel more settled and in control. If I can help them to feel less frightened, I know I’ve done my job well.

Put simply, I’m in £30,000 worth of debt following completion of my bachelors degree, the Graduate Diploma in Law (to convert to law), and the Bar Vocational Course (to study to be a barrister). I had no independent means of funding during my studies and so I funded it all myself. In addition to my job as a paralegal, at the moment I also work a further part time job just to keep going.

I believe the cuts to legal aid will mean that vulnerable people will be exploited, taken advantage of, and won’t have access to any form of justice unless they have money to pay for a lawyer privately.

Credit Slave designed by Silly Lili from the Noun Project