10 December, 2006

Alex's job: What's that all about?

Clearly I'm bad at blogging. Simon is keen and makes regular entires. Obvously he has far too much time on his hands! I, on the other hand, am industrious and far too busy for such trivial matters. However, it occurred to me that before Simon and I report on the highlights of our year, I ought to make to effort to provide an up-date on the more mundane matter of what I'm doing at the moment.
Well, as usual the most time consuming aspect of my life currenlty is work. Why so busy? The answer is simply that, I chose to be busy and I chose to work hard. Clearly we need the money but more importantly I thouroughly enjoy my work and I'm also passionate about what I do in principle.
Many people I speak to don't really unserstand what I do, both in the sense of not knowing what my job entails and not undertsanding why I do it.
The "What "
My day to day activities revolve around representing people at the police staion and the court when they are accused of a criminal offence. My job is 9-5 + as I am often on out of hours call at the weekends and in the evenings.
The "Why"
The most common question I'm asked when people find out I specialise in criminal defence is "How can you represent someone when you know they are guilty?" In my view this question completely misses the mark. The point is simply this: Everyone who is accused of committing a criminal offence should have access to justice and is entitled to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, regardless or innocence or guilt. Also, everyone should have the security of knowing that regardless of social staus , privilege or financial position due process will be observed and they will get a fair hearing as their cases progreeses at every stage. My job is not to judge the people I represent but to be their advocate, to stand with them and speak on thier behalf when they may be unable to speak for themselves. My client's interests and the justice system are best served only if I do represent my clients robustly. I am obliged to act with integrity and I am bound by a strict profssional code. My goal for myself, however, is that I also always act with kindness and compassion. I count it a privilege to do the job I do and I don't take it lightly.
What's new?
Simon posted a picture from an article in the local paper recently entitled "Lawyers in Revolution" or something similar. You may have wondered what that was all about. Well, the Government have recently changed the criterea for granting legal aid in crimnal cases and plan to introduce more sweeping reforms to the criminal defence system in 2007. Sadly, the reforms are not good. The media have focused on the effect the reforms will have on solictors profit margins (and the reality is many specialist criminal defence practices may go out of business). However, the real issue is access to justice and the effect it will have on ordinary people, who find themselves within the criminal justice system. I fear that this county's once robust crimnal justice system will become empoverished if the reforms are allowed to take hold. I hope that crimnal defence solictors will stand together and be heard on this issue but who can tell what the new year will bring. I'll keep you posted.

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