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Can solicitors specialise in civil law AND criminal law? watch

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    For example, could you specialise in some torts such as defamation and trespass, but then also take on the occasional criminal case? Or if you really want to be successful, do you generally need to focus on one area and do really well in it?

    And with regards to barristers - can they also specialise in multiple areas? Or is it rare to find a barrister who takes on civil and criminal work?
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    Barristers used to be very much about having specialised in advocacy. This is changing. Now specialisation in advocacy and a practice area is usually necessary, which makes sense, a "let's avoid jack of all trades, master of none" approach.

    Solicitors depend on the level of practice. If you go to work of a big-city firm, you will be specialising, and fairly quickly (a mate of mine has a traineeship with only 1 seat - commercial propert - for the whole 2 years!). If you become a high stree solicitor, you'll see criminal and civil, but little commercial work. That's the trade off as I see it.
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    (Original post by storna)
    For example, could you specialise in some torts such as defamation and trespass, but then also take on the occasional criminal case? Or if you really want to be successful, do you generally need to focus on one area and do really well in it?

    And with regards to barristers - can they also specialise in multiple areas? Or is it rare to find a barrister who takes on civil and criminal work?
    A fair number of barristers do common law civil plus crime. Quite of lot of common law chambers want their junior tenants to do crime because it builds advocacy skills. Some of them will want to keep their hands in, not least because it widens judicial opportunities.

    You will still find a very few solicitors who practice as general practitioners doing crime alongside everything else, but it is now very rare. The Legal Services Commission is trying to target legal aid money at the firms doing large volumes of crime; small rural courts and police stations are being closed and it is hard to combine crime with an office-based practice.

    There are a few others who combine crime with another niche area, often employment or immigration or mental health but those practitioners are vulnerable to legal aid cuts because each of these areas is looked at separately for legal aid purposes.

    Even a large non-specialist provincial litigation practice will only be handling two or three defamation cases a year. As for trespass, this generally means neighbour disputes; which are the cases 99% of litigation solicitors would cheerfully give up.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    A fair number of barristers do common law civil plus crime. Quite of lot of common law chambers want their junior tenants to do crime because it builds advocacy skills. Some of them will want to keep their hands in, not least because it widens judicial opportunities.

    You will still find a very few solicitors who practice as general practitioners doing crime alongside everything else, but it is now very rare. The Legal Services Commission is trying to target legal aid money at the firms doing large volumes of crime; small rural courts and police stations are being closed and it is hard to combine crime with an office-based practice.

    There are a few others who combine crime with another niche area, often employment or immigration or mental health but those practitioners are vulnerable to legal aid cuts because each of these areas is looked at separately for legal aid purposes.

    Even a large non-specialist provincial litigation practice will only be handling two or three defamation cases a year. As for trespass, this generally means neighbour disputes; which are the cases 99% of litigation solicitors would cheerfully give up.
    Thanks for your reply.

    Is there such thing as a tort solicitor? Or do these just turn out to be personal injury lawyers who do a bit of defamation on the side?

    In terms of civil law, how broadly can solicitor specialise? Could a solicitor do family, a bit of tort and some employment - or does it really have to be focused on one area of civil law?
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    (Original post by storna)
    Thanks for your reply.

    Is there such thing as a tort solicitor? Or do these just turn out to be personal injury lawyers who do a bit of defamation on the side?

    In terms of civil law, how broadly can solicitor specialise? Could a solicitor do family, a bit of tort and some employment - or does it really have to be focused on one area of civil law?
    Family lawyers mostly do family law. Rather oddly, for legal aid purposes probate and trust disputes are classed as family law but are usually not dealt with by family lawyers.

    Personal injury work is generally dealt with by PI lawyers who usually do nothing else. Before the funding reforms of the late 90s, there were quite a few solicitors who combined PI with other types of litigation. Generally now, either firms do no-win no-fee PI or they don't. If they do, the way it is done differs radically from the way other litigation is conducted. The client has about as much say over the process as a sausage in a sausage machine.

    General, often called commercial, litigators deal with the whole range of other types of litigation. Depending on how big or small the firm is, that work will either be dealt with generally by the same people, or the work will be divided up into classes e.g construction, insurance, banking, debt recovery, professional negligence, property litigation.

    Note that the division is not into different jurisprudential areas; a claim for professional negligence will usually involve both contract and tort; a construction dispute often contract and quasi-contract.

    Moreover the division is not by the activity of the client. An insurance company that has a dispute with the builder of its new offices has a construction dispute not an insurance dispute.

    Rather the division is usually by the functional area of the problem.

    Defamation is a slight exception. There were specialist solicitors who did little apart from defamation but they have expanded into privacy and other related areas of media law.

    How employment law is organised varies from firm to firm. In many firms employment law departments deal with both contentious and non-contentious employment law. In others the non-contentious work goes to a commercial department and the contentious work is one type of general or commercial litigation and dealt with with either greater or lesser specialisation depending on the size of the firm. In yet other, generally smaller, firms contentious employment work is a niche that is combined with another unrelated niche in order to create a viable workload.

    Obviously in the very smallest firms, one person does everything. Although there are still thousands of such firms, very few are being passed on to a new generation and even fewer are being set up from scratch.
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    (Original post by storna)
    Thanks for your reply.

    Is there such thing as a tort solicitor? Or do these just turn out to be personal injury lawyers who do a bit of defamation on the side?

    In terms of civil law, how broadly can solicitor specialise? Could a solicitor do family, a bit of tort and some employment - or does it really have to be focused on one area of civil law?
    Tort is far, far wider than PI and defamation
 
 
 
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