Inspiring the next generation of Criminal Defence Lawyers
Alongside Gemma, on this inspirational panel were:
His Honour Judge Nicholas Cooke QC;
Jeremy Dein QC of 25 Bedford Row; and
Adrita Ahmed, Solicitor at the Crown Prosecution Service.
During the event, Matty McDermott-Krasker, President of the CJS Society, asked us lots of questions such as what it is like working in criminal law, what our average day looks like and what is the most rewarding part of careers.
The average day of a Criminal Lawyer, working in defence, was described by Stephen as chaotic. Gemma added that "we usually wake up in the morning, not knowing who has been arrested overnight or where we may have to go to represent them. It is the nature of the job." Adrita is a prosecutor and will sometimes be notified of cases listed in court the night before. She told us that she had 24 cases to deal with in one day, with multiple issues all happening at once. She described this as hectic but enjoyable.
Gemma said: "the most rewarding part of my job is ensuring justice is delivered, representing those who feel they do not have a voice and providing clients with knowledge regarding what the police have powers to do, and, of course, what not to do." She also highlighted her career path, informing the attendees about the CILEx (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) route to qualification and what it entails. Gemma graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 and enrolled with CILEx. She is due to quality as a Chartered Legal Executives in the next few months.
Much discussion was had surrounding the topic of legal aid fees. Stephen told us that "the current fixed and graduate fee system is unsustainable, which in turn will lead to diversity and retention issues". Jeremy Dein QC commented on how legal aid fees are insulting, particularly for junior lawyers at the Bar.
Despite the lack of remuneration, criminal law is by far the most interesting and rewarding area of law. Stephen said "ensuring justice is delivered and defendants are given a fair trial is the most rewarding part of the job."
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Queen Mary University's Criminal Justice Society for asking us to be part of this auspicious panel. Well done on a fantastic event!
If you would like to discuss any of the above or you would like access to the recording of this event, please do not hesitate to contact Gemma on firstname.lastname@example.org