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Solicitor Profile: Carl Woolf

Solicitor Profile: Carl Woolf

Carl Woolf, partner and solicitor advocate of Meldrum Solicitors in St Albans, discusses the implications of digital working and an intriguing perspective on legal aid criminal defence solicitors.

He was also the lucky winner of an Apple iPad Mini via the Upper Case Legal Journal relaunch competition! Carl Woolf, partner and co-founder at one of the foremost criminal practices in Hertfordshire, Meldrum Solicitors, is responsible for the running of their Crown Court Advocacy.

Carl is a highly experienced senior higher rights advocate who is currently leading junior counsel in a Conspiracy to Murder trial at the Crown Court. He obtained higher rights of audience formally in 2004 but had previously utilised his inherent rights of audience since the late 90’s. The Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee recently selected Carl to assist in the selection of new magistrates. His professional accolades include successfully defending a client in the world’s largest prosecution ever for eBay fraud, the first landmark prosecution for Land Banking Fraud and the first ever prosecution of illegal material posted on Newsgroups.

Early doors at CKFT solicitors in Hampstead, Carl thought he had “made a terrible mistake” by practicing law. He then found what he describes as his ‘labour of love’ having previously prosecuted on behalf of the R.S.P.C.A and for the Federation against Copyright Theft.

Carl acknowledges working in the legal sector’s most exciting area of law has its draw backs. The vast frustrations with operating within today’s criminal legal aid parameters are echoed by Carl time and again. He states that it’s not primarily just the “changing goalposts, reduction in rates and the removal of remuneration for vast areas of the law” that is systematically damaging the industry.

The pressing matter at hand came about in August 2010 with the change to a centralised billing and payment structure which has resulted in firms waiting up to 4 or 5 months and sometimes longer for payment. Carl outlines the implications of the “massive impact on cash flow” and likens this to damaging staff morale as well as business performance.

Carl also regards the public sector cuts to the Police service as a catalyst for the demise in ‘duty solicitor’ work being readily available. Meldrum Solicitors fortunately don’t rely too heavily on the duty solicitor scheme; primarily they rely on their ‘loyal own client-following’ which stems from what he describes as their excellent customer service. They benefit from a “seamless service from the police station through to the Crown Court.” Their team utilises a high ratio of solicitor advocates to duty solicitors with this longevity of client interaction strengthening customer relations throughout.

He subsequently questions whether being asked to do “more and more every day for less money” when “criminal defence lawyers being all that stands between an innocent person and losing their liberty” is ethically correct.

His summing up of this echoes the opinion of many in that “you don’t become a criminal lawyer because you want to earn lots of money.”

Read Carl Woolf’s thoughts on Digital Working

This post was written by:

- who has written 2 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.


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