Categorized | Criminal Justice, Legal Aid

“The government’s proposals for legal aid should be taken out and shot for commercial stupidity”

“The government’s proposals for legal aid should be taken out and shot for commercial stupidity”

How we worked this out for the Law Society and Andrew Otterburn

Like you, the iLaw team has spent most of the last two months taking apart the government’s dreadful proposals for criminal legal aid. We were asked by the Law Society to assist Otterburn Consultancy in preparing their report on the price competitive tendering proposals because of our extensive experience of criminal legal aid firms.

As most of you know, we prepared a White Paper itemising the 42 procurement areas in terms of volume and value using the government’s figures. For the report, we went a lot further and studied key procurement areas to determine whether or not it is possible to create a practice structure and cashflow that could make a sustainable profit under the government’s proposals. We interviewed many firms and road-tested ideas as we went, honing our knowledge and data to ensure certainty in the results. We spoke to small firms, large firms, firms turning digital and firms who eschew IT investment. 

We learned that no contract area provides a consistent opportunity to acquire new work. The loss of existing clients means everyone is starting again in September 2014 on the client acquisition trail. How fast a firm does it depends entirely on four things, most of which are entirely outside of solicitors hands under PCT:

1. If we assume that client allocation is done by duty rota, on the frequency of duties that occur at court and the police station OR if we assume that client allocation is done by a.n.other method, eg alphabetical (a terrible idea), then the rate at which anyone in A-D commits a crime
2. The frequency of arrests generally
3. The frequency at which the police convert an arrest into a full investigation warranting the attendance of the duty solicitor, either in person or by telephone
4. The frequency at which the police charge offences as opposed to dealing by way of caution or other administrative procedure

We also accessed extensive police data about arrest and process rates for each area, understanding the large geographical differentials that could spell make or break for a contract holder.  And we saw that processing rates meant things like:
a. In Sussex, 46.02% of arrests didn’t result in a fee claim from a solicitor in 2010 – 2011
b. In Greater Manchester, 47.52% of arrests did not result in a fee claim
c. In Northumbria, 76.05% did not result in a fee claim
d. Whereas in West Midlands, only 19.78% didn’t result in a fee claim

All of this went into our figures for the Otterburn Report as well as our own response to the consultation, which you can download here. And on this basis we will continue to resist the government’s proposals in any way that we can.

This post was written by:

- who has written 11 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Founding designer of iLaw products. Practiced criminal defence work for the majority of her legal career, dual-handing duty and crown court work with being a franchising manager. Worked for DMH Stallard, Griffith Smith, Bosley & Co and Tuckers Solicitors. Her unique career path has also taken her deep into online retail and Christina is an expert at working with business owners and partners to develop new or better ways of enabling law firms to survive and thrive in the ever changing legal environment.

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One Response to ““The government’s proposals for legal aid should be taken out and shot for commercial stupidity””

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  1. Barrister Blogger says:

    […] Grayling’s mind it may well have been because of the devastating report it commissioned from Andrew Otterburn and Anya Designs which made it crystal clear that the goverment’s original proposal was simply unworkable in […]


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