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My Legal Life

I always wanted to be a lawyer but took an indirect route. As a pink-haired teen, I was more interested in music and politics than studying. I left Lincolnshire for a London squat and had a wonderful time. I worked as a dresser in the West End; was a PA to Vanessa Redgrave; and even sold shirts door-to-door in the City.

At 21 I decided to get back to my books. By day, I sold ad space for the Evening Standard; by night, I attended lectures at Birkbeck and King’s College London. After the LPC, most students were off to practise corporate law. That didn’t interest me. I wanted to do something I saw as more meaningful.

A week’s work experience at Tottenham Hotspur’s legal department led to employment by a local crime firm as a probationary police station rep. My first call-out saw me locked in a cell with a huge naked burglar who had refused the paper suit. I could hear the desk sergeants guffawing as I, red-faced, tried to focus on giving my legal advice.

Read the full article on the Law Gazette website.


Justice failing the young?

Youth Courts are retaining jurisdiction in ever more serious cases.The orthodox view is that Youth Courts are the right venue for under-18s. The 2017 Youth Sentencing Guideline states that ’young people should be tried in the Youth Court’ as it is ’best designed to meet their specific needs’. It now seems that unless there is a statutory bar to a Youth Court trial, as in homicide, then summary trial it will be. As a youth justice solicitor I think this is unfair.

The latest quarterly MoJ figures show that 98% of defendants facing summary trial are convicted, compared with 81% who are tried by juries. The right to jury trial is the backbone of our criminal justice system. Adults choose or are sent to the Crown Court in either way or indictable cases. Under-18s have no choice and even in rape cases. it is now usual for them to have a Youth Court trial.

Read the full article on the Law Gazette website.


Should Youth Justice be recognised as a specialism?

The Bar Standards Board has announced that later this year there will be compulsory registration of barristers working in the Youth Court, and in February they published their guidance document Youth Proceedings Competences. These changes are in response to the BSB and CILEx Regulation-commissioned report ‘The Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review’, which found that there is a lack of specialist training for Youth Court advocates and that advocacy was ‘highly variable’.

But what of solicitors? Is it time to recognise youth justice as a specialism?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has responded by publishing on its website ‘a specialist support package for solicitors working in youth courts’. The focus is on recognising and responding to the particular vulnerabilities of children caught up in the criminal justice system and highlights the importance of working with other agencies. The accompanying notes point out that more than 60% of young people and children in the criminal justice system have significant speech, language, and communication difficulties.

Read the full article on the Legal Voice website.

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Tildens is a trading name of Tildens Ltd. | Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA NO: 633830 | Terms and Conditions
Director: Sarah Smith. Registered in England and Wales | Company Number: 10334130 Registered Office: 95, Ditchling Road, Brighton, BN1 4ST

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