Is there any point in launching a career in family or criminal law given the legal aid budget is being squeezed?
It is true that there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the level of fees payable to barristers out of the public purse. The debate on the rates of pay in criminal and family work has been headline news for some years now.
However, this by no means should deter you from specialising in these areas of law, particularly if your interests are more altruistic. Demand for barristers services in criminal and family work is not diminishing and many chambers who specialise in these areas have been successful in combining publicly funded work with privately paid work where the fees are often higher, helping to counter the downwards pressure on fee income. You may also want to consider the implications of this economic pressure on these segments of the market: one possible outcome may be that the structure of the industry changes for example the new Legal Services Act 2007 envisages the possibility of barristers in partnership with each other, or with solicitors.
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