Monday, November 07, 2005

Billing Time Again

Billing time has come round again. It is that time of the month when the management in my firm tell all of the fee earners to bill all of the files that are possible to bill.

I do not mind billing. It is a time consuming activity but it is nice to understand how my hard work can translate in to money for my employer.

An e-mail was sent to me today suggesting that I should perhaps bill a little bit more this month. It is exactly this kind of attitude that has driven me from the firm I currently work for to find employment elsewhere. I am being told to bill more, was the £50,000 worth of bills I submitted last month not enough? I had a glut of Crown Court cases finish last month which hopefully will be paid in the next few months. I am going to bill no where near the £50,000 of last month, the firm will probably get something like £10,000 out of me for this month. The management fails to understand that to earn large fees on Crown Court cases I have to ease off the Police Station and Magistrates Court work.

Never mind, I shall submit my billing and keep on smiling knowing that my days are numbered as I start my new job in the new year.


Anonymous said...

Me again! Sorry to be so negative all the time but what the hell did you do last month that deserved £50,000 in fees!

Ridiculous money and basically coming from the taxpayers pocket.

Gavin said...

The £50,000 represents the total bills for cases that finished recently and have been billed. One of the cases had been running for about a year and had a long trial in the Crown Court. There were a few other more routine Crown Court cases. Then there was the usual mixture of Magistrates Court work and Police Station work.

The £50,000 was not for work done last month, but spread over time, but billed last month.

A usual month's billing will be about £8,000 to £10,000 worth of Magistrates Court and Police Station work and a few thousand for Crown Court fees.

Steve all this work is done at legal aid rates - so it is cost effective (or at least that is what some might say).

You mentioned that this money is coming out of the tax payers pocket. That is right. One of the cases billed was for £36,000. This particular Client was found not guilty at his trial. Would you complain about tax payers money if you were found not guilty of a serious offence in the Crown Court?

Anonymous said...

Would you complain about tax payers money if you were found not guilty of a serious offence in the Crown Court?

That would depend upon on whether I was actually guilty or not!

Anonymous said...

Don't be a dick Steve. If you were accused of a crime then you'd want competent representation. I get sick of hearing whiners who seem to think that criminal defence work is some kind of legalised theft, which exists only because government is made up of lawyers. That attitude shows mind numbing ignorance, especially as most politicians who began as lawyers wouldn't touch legal aid work with a barge pole!

The simple fact is that the government directs how much is spent defending people, not the profession.

I could easily cut the legal aid bill and I could do it in such a way that no lawyer would complain.

How? Easy, cut crime! The government created nearly 1,000 new crimes since coming to office in 1997, did that help? Instead, if they spent their time working out how to help offenders address their behaviour by tackling povety - and I mean actually doing something, not just the usual thing of making it look like they're doing something!

But, that's far too hard - it's far easier to point at lawyers and blame them for the amount being spent!

Reduced crime = reduced legal aid bill!

Anonymous said...

£10k to £50k billed a month?

Wanna come & work for me?


Gavin said...

Nick that was a little harsh on Steve. He sounds curious.

Most people do not understand that criminal defence work is not about ensuring that criminals walk free but ensuring those who claim to be innocent are protected to ensure that there are no miscarriages of justice.

Gavin said...


That's a very generous offer. The £50,000 was an exceptional month.

Anonymous said...

Nick, if the criminals received the appropriate punishment for the crimes they committed it may make them think twice about doing it again, therefore reducing crime. Solicitors like yourself getting them off the hook on a legal technicality, which I concede is your job, increases the chances of them committing crime, thinking that if they get a good brief, they can do as they like.

Police are overworked and many defence solicitors know that the service is stretched and take every case all the way hoping that documentation or witnesses wont turn up and they'll get the case thrown out over disclosure or wintess issues.

If I were wrongly accused I would want the best brief to argue my case.

There's too many criminals getting off on technicalities when really, they're bang to rights.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I wont lower myself to your level and resort to name-calling.

Anonymous said...

The legal aid scheme was created to ensure that persons who were accused of crimes were not disadvantaged by low income/no income and would have access to a legal represetative to defend them.

It was not intended to be a gravy train for solicitors (regular income) or career criminals who milk the system on a daily basis.

Pleading not guilty to offences at Magistrates Court and electing trial by jury (where applicable) in order to keep the cash-cow flowing until a last minute Guilty Plea at Crown Court.

This is a familiar scenario, doubtless you'll argue necessary to ascertain the strength of the evidence/appearance of witnesses etc.

BUT the strength of the evidence remains the same and when the witnesses DO turn up (often ONLY police officers required)the Defence suddenly rethink their case??

No, methinks we smell a rat somewhere and leagal aid is usually the funding for such tactics. I wonder how many defendants would plead guilty and shorten their legal bill if THEY had to fund their career activities themselves?

The way to reduce the legal aid bill is to change the rules under which you qualify for legal aid, first offence - YES, second offence - MAYBE, third or more offence - NO they've trodden the path before and clearly wish to continue to do so, therefore they pay their own legal bills being accused once is unlucky, being accused twice is careless, but being accused three times? Stretches their credibility!!

Simple and it too won't prevent the truly innocent from getting financial aid.So long as they don't start making a habit out of "unfortunate mistakes".

Gavin said...


You seem to be slightly cynical in thinking that every solicitor is a fat cat lawyer milking legal aid to get cases to the Crown Court. You will usualy find solicitors firms either doing lots of legal aid work or none, because you have to do it is volume to make it profitable.

Legal aid is changing and means testing is going to be reintroduced by the Criminal Defence Service Bill. Those who have money will then have to pay for their defence. This will not affect the petty criminals who tend to commit crime to fund their lives, who do not work and who very probably live off benefits and crime.

For simple cases where there is not much evidence very little money is made by taking a case to the Crown Court. Rates of pay are worse in the Crown Court and you then get in to the situation where to get better rates of pay you need to us emore senior staff.

Taking cases to the Crown Court does now impact of defendants pockets. Magistrates cannot order a Recovery of Defence Costs Order but a Crown Court can. If a Judge thought that a defendant had taken his case to the Crown Court for frivilous reasons then they can order that the defendant pays the costs of the prosecution and defence.

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Anonymous said...

I am a legal aid client. I have been told that my instructing solicitors are paid per page of evidence at a rate of £10 per page, not bad when my case runs to 25000 pages.

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