The president of the Law Society Linda Lee has written a letter to the Daily Mail in response to an article that appeared in the paper on Monday 4 April 2011.
The newspaper featured an article with the headline 'Now we have more lawyers than police thanks to legal aid." It included Law Society figures that show the number of solicitors and barristers in the UK has risen in the last ten years. In addition, the article said there are currently 165,000 lawyers in the country and 142,363 police officers.
The article then went on to discuss the number of lawyers employed by local authorities, the average starting salary of a trainee lawyer, the Law Society's Sound Off For Justice campaign against the government's proposed cuts to legal aid, and votes for prisoners.
Linda Lee wrote in her letter to the Daily Mail that she "cannot understand the reference in your headline to legal aid causing the increase in the number of lawyers." She highlighted the fact that in the last ten years the number of legal aid lawyers has actually fallen, from 5,000 to 3,000, a fact the article should have included if it had distinguished between private sector solicitors and legal aid solicitors.
Linda Lee also highlighted that the average trainee salary for legal aid lawyers is £25,000, which is less than the salary quoted in the article, and that the average legal aid solicitor working in the criminal courts is paid less than a sewer worker.
The Law Society's letter not only defended legal aid solicitors, it pointed out that the article had misrepresented the point of the Law Society's Sound Off For Justice campaign.
The article made out that the campaign is calling for no cuts to publicly funded legal cases. However, Linda Lee points out this is not the case; the Law Society accepts that cuts must be made to the legal aid system but is challenging the government's proposals on how this should be achieved.
The Law Society has come up with an alternative cuts proposal that it believes will achieve the necessary savings without decreasing access to justice.
Read more on the story (Law Gazette)
Read more about the Sound Off For Justice campaign (Sound Off For Justice)
Learn more about legal aid (FindLaw)
Find a local specialist solicitor in an area near you (FindLaw)