I work more than 12 hour days, and get £12,000 a year to work in criminal defence.

I am a 24 year old trainee solicitor working in crime. I get paid £12,000 and work over 12 hours days.

I arrive noun_33418_ccat work at 8am. Phone calls from clients start now and end about 10pm

At 9:30 I have a prison visit. I normally sit around for 1 hour whilst my clientis found.

At 11am I check my mail, usually legal aid forms or certificates around 5 per day. I have to telephone clients who have filled in forms incorrectly (a high proportion of illiterate /vulnerable / elderly clients who don’t understand what the forms are actually asking and a lot of time is spent explaining the client situation to the court).

I typically do some legal research,admin and billing throughout the day. Admin usually means lots of time on hold to, or chasing, the  Legal Aid Agency, the police or the local council.

If I have to go to court, I will finish there at 4:30. When the court lists come out, I have to  check that we are still covered. Inevitably, I find that things have been pulled or moved up at the eleventh hour.

At 5pm I have client and barrister meetings so that my clients don’t have to take time off work.

I leave the office anywhere between 6pm and 9pm. I am on call for 12 hour shifts between 9pm and 9am about four times a month.

I’m 24, living with my parents, earning £12,000. I have a car loan to pay off and have to have a car for my job. I have an LPC loan to pay off which is crippling. I can’t afford day to day living as once I’ve paid the loans and helped out with household expenses there’s £200 left.

I am worried about the cuts, not for my  own struggle, that is essentially a choice, but I wonder how many people they expect to help clients on a pro bono basis? Access to justice is being totally denied.

I earn £14kpa as a Paralegal representing people with mental health problems

icon_2230I am a 24 year old paralegal. I am responsible for assisting clients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (also known as clients who have been “sectioned”) and assist them in applying for their discharge from hospital. I represent them at Tribunal hearings and other various types of hearings/meetings.

My clients are typically some of the most vulnerable members of society and they will often see me as being able to give them extra support, as a social worker would. They ask me for assistance with a variety of things which I simply cannot assist with due to limits of legal aid funding.

My day usually starts at around 8.30 but no later than 9.00. A typical day will involve managing a number of cases. I often spend time out of the office taking instructions from the client as well as reading reports, liaising with various professionals and representing clients at hearings. I usually finish my day at about 6.00pm.

My poor salary of £14,000 pa was described to me as “competitive” when it is effectively just minimum wage. I am baffled by my poor salary given the work that I do. I live in one of the UK’s most expensive towns and pay for my own rent and bills. My parents cannot afford to support me so I live from pay packet to pay packet, often worrying about money. I have a £2,000 overdraft from university that I have been unable to repay due to having no disposable income after having paid living expenses.

Furthermore, I had to take out a £10,000 loan to cover the cost of the Legal Practice Course and the 5 year repayment plan is due to start this summer. This will cost me over £200 per month and will leave me with hardly any money to live on. Consequently I am scared as to how I am going to survive.

The cuts to legal aid worry me as they are putting a career in legal aid out of the reach of more and more talented individuals.

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