Once considered to be the hallmark of a lucrative career, now even the lawyers are striking. Well, only some of them. Yesterday marked the first day of four-week long strikes undertaken by criminal barristers over legal aid fees. They’re calling for a 25 per cent pay rise, and have been offered 15 per cent.
Some of the most senior criminal barristers earn a very reasonable salary; those worst affected are the young ones. They get paid only for their appearance in court, not for all the administrative work they do, and they have to cover their own travel expenses as they show up in courts up and down the country. Sometimes the fee is barely enough to cover the travel.
These conditions have pushed many to leave the profession, as junior barristers often earn less than minimum wage. Newly qualified lawyers working in corporate, on the other hand, can sometimes earn up to £100,000.