BrendanShanon
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I am a first year law student and I'm aware criminal law isn't exactly high paying but I feel like I would get much more enjoyment out of it. I find it hard to find information on criminal solicitors as there isn't much on google and it's hard to get work experience with yknow covid. I hope to get into some winter/summer vacation schemes next year but I really just want to know more about the field if anyone can answer my questions.

Do criminal solicitors go into prisons to meet with certain clients?

Do they also go to court at all? I am aware of the role of barristers but does the solicitor act as counsel and sit in on the court sessions/give advice?

What really is the job of a criminal solicitor? The things that come to mind are meeting with clients, searching through precedent/case law, and negotiating with the CPS. Is there anything more?
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Crazy Jamie
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(Original post by BrendanShanon)
Do criminal solicitors go into prisons to meet with certain clients?
Yes. Part of the job is having conferences with clients in order to take their instructions, ascertain their version of events, and keep them updated with the progress of their case. If the client is in prison, either because they were refused bail or are currently serving a prison sentence, that conference will take place in the prison.
Do they also go to court at all? I am aware of the role of barristers but does the solicitor act as counsel and sit in on the court sessions/give advice?
It's pretty common for criminal solicitors to do advocacy in the Magistrates Court, both in interim hearings and at trials. It is less common in the Crown Court because solicitors do not naturally have the rights of audience that they need to appear in the Crown Court, whereas barristers do. However, it is possible to obtain higher rights as a solicitor at represent clients in the Crown Court. The CPS also commonly employ HRAs (Higher Rights Advocates) to prosecute cases rather than barristers.
What really is the job of a criminal solicitor? The things that come to mind are meeting with clients, searching through precedent/case law, and negotiating with the CPS. Is there anything more?
Fundamentally the job of a criminal solicitor is the same as any other solicitor. You receive cases, you meet with and take instructions from your clients, then you prepare and run their cases to their conclusion. The difference is how the particular area of law impacts on what you do in practice. I've already mentioned that as a criminal solicitor you will likely go to court, which solicitors in other areas of law will virtually never do. In terms of other things that make up those steps, you do search through case law, but there are relatively few criminal cases that turn on legal points. Procedural points are often more important, but you won't learn about criminal procedure in the main on your law degree. But the important point is that whilst you're reading and studying the actual law a lot in your law degree, you would do that relatively little as a criminal solicitor, or indeed any solicitor. What you practically do will depend on what the case requires, and will usually involve things like analysing evidence (and potentially gathering evidence, depending on the nature of it). Negotiating and corresponding with the CPS is certainly part of it. You will often also speak with and take statements from other witnesses that your client may ultimately wish to call at trial. As I say, it's really whatever the case requires. There may well be some criminal barristers or solicitors who can give you more a practical insight. I know all of this from my general knowledge and limited historic experience (I did some crime when I was in pupillage and in the first year or so of tenancy) but I'm not a criminal practitioner, so someone who has more practical experience might be able to offer a more practical answer.
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legalhelp
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I would agree (as a former criminal solicitor) with everything Crazy Jamie has said. There is only one thing I would add. Criminal practice is a broad spectrum. At one end, you have the more run of the mill volume stuff (assaults, driving offences, shoplifting etc), moving through to more serious crime (murder, manslaughter, serious sexual offences, robbery etc). Most specialist criminal firms will do a mixture of this sort of work. Then, there is more complex financial and corporate crime. Generally speaking, it is a different set of firms that deal with these matters, and there isn’t a huge amount of overlap between the two sets (with some exceptions of course). As you can probably imagine, the client base for each of these types of firms can be quite different. Solicitors at the first kind of firm will probably be in and out of court and prisons the whole time. Solicitors in the second kind of firm may go to court once every few years, and very rarely have any cause to go to prison. It is also an area of crime which, if you’re lucky, can pay very well.
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