The London Advocate

Advocate Issue 79

PUBLISHED December 30, 2013

I would like to start my first editorial by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. It is, unfortunately, a year that begins with great uncertainty but we can take some small comfort from the fact that we are not alone. In this edition's interview, Ian Lawrence, the general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, confirms that the future of probation officers is not a certain one and that Mr Grayling's proposals for them are as ill conceived as are his plans for us.
Ian Lawrence strongly states his belief that those criminal justice agencies which are at risk from the planned cuts must all stand together - a theme continued by Greg Foxsmith in his piece From Where I Stand. This is a rallying call that must be passed on to our colleagues in other areas of law. Greg reports that that Brian May's "save the badger" petition was signed more readily than the "save legal aid" petition. As Greg notes, this is a matter of concern; perhaps we lawyers would have been more popular had Kenneth Grahame granted Mr Toad the assistance of a duty solicitor at court and a prison law lawyer during the course of his 20-year sentence, rather than relying on a washerwoman's daughter to assist with his escape!
And so, if I may be so bold, I suggest a New Year's resolution. This should not be one of those that we are forced to ditch too soon because it's too hard.
Instead, I commend a simple tweak of outlook: we need to encompass the concept of unity. Criminal justice agencies, solicitors and barristers should face the challenges of the coming year together.
Monday 6 January provides us with just such an opportunity. We can show a united front to the rest of the country. The training event for solicitors that morning coincides with the morning of action arranged by the Criminal Bar Association.
Attending the training session on 6 January will also present solicitors with another opportunity: we can fulfill that other New Year's Resolution, the one we make every year, which is: not to leave collecting all our CPD training points until the last available minute!
- Mel Stooks, TV Edwards