A senior and retired judge – who has his memoirs just coming out – complains that mere electricians make more than junior criminal lawyers. This is true but quite why there are complaints about it is uncertain. For junior professionals always do – at least should do – make less than skilled tradesmen.
Electricians now earn more than young criminal barristers, according to Sir Richard Henriques, as he says the profession is struggling to attract the brightest minds.
Former high court judge in England and Wales, Sir Richard Henriques, has said that a career in criminal law is no longer attracting the “highest calibre” candidates due to austerity.
What he’s actually saying here is that legal aid doesn’t pay very much. He’s not, in fact, arguing that the price paid by someone up on a charge isn’t high enough. Rather, that what government pays to defend those up on a charge isn’t high. Which, given that the CPS also pays the prosecution not very much seems entirely fair.
A former High Court judge has hit out at rock bottom rates of pay at the criminal bar — complaining that even his electrician makes more than a junior barrister.
Sir Richard Henriques, a retired criminal specialist, said that legal aid cuts had reached the point where tradespeople are out-earning lawyers.
About which we can and should say three things.
Firstly, the point of giving solicitors the right of audience was to make going to court cheaper. We’ve actively gone out and changed the structure of the law so as to reduce the monopolisation by barristers and therefore the incomes of barristers. We did this deliberately and as a matter of policy.
Secondly, much criminal work does not require the brightest minds. “He didn’t dun it M’Lud” combined with the ability to comfort as the usual 5 years is passed down would seem to cover the majority of the work. For it really is true that a very large portion of what is going on is processing, not anything difficult.
But the third is perhaps the most important. It has long, long, been true that junior members of the professions get shit pay. On Adam Smith’s principle that all jobs pay the same. Listening to the judge making a joke again irks but it’s better than dunnikin diving. Sure, the top lawyers are different, but the average dweeb pleading nolo contendere on a charge of going equipped? Why should they gain high incomes? Why even decent ones?
The deal always has been that a modicum of social position more than makes up for any deficit in actual cash income, plus there’s always that chance that Tarquin might actually be good at it, we’ll find out in perhaps a decade and then he’ll start getting paid properly.
The reason that junior criminal lawyers get paid less than electricians is because they should.