Everyone’s days have changed since we initially went into lockdown, although a Criminal Solicitor has elements of what we now refer to as normal life.
They still have to attend Police Stations when necessary and Courts that are open. As much is now done remotely where possible, there are elements of a Criminal Solicitors life that is not viable to be done over the phone or an online meeting platform.
Alice Hornsby, a Cartwright King Solicitor working out of the Derby office gives insight into a typical lockdown day.
‘In the morning, I switch on my laptop and check in with my colleagues. Whoever was on call the night before will tell me if there is anyone who has been held for court.
If I have a client requiring my assistance in the remand court, I first of all have to telephone the court usher and tell him or her who I am representing. I find out who the prosecutor is in court, and ask them over the phone or by email to send me the papers to enable me to advise my client. Once I have had the papers, I then have to telephone the police station to speak to my client, advise him/her and take their instructions. All this is done from my makeshift office space at home.
The hearing itself is conducted by video, with me appearing remotely, which means I do not have to leave my house. On my laptop when I have been virtually invited in to the courtroom by the legal advisor, I can see the judge, my client, the prosecutor and the probation service on my laptop screen.
My afternoon is spent completing follow up work from my morning at court, work on my existing case-load and then do my administration. It is hard, but the whole team keep in contact with each other, working together remotely and supporting each other through these unprecedented times. I try to make sure I take regular breaks from my computer screen so I don’t start suffering from screen fatigue.
When I have finished for the day, I do my daily exercises then relax in front of the TV with my husband. I use this time to relax and prepare myself for what is happening tomorrow.
This is an unusual way of working but has somewhat become the new normal in criminal proceedings in the magistrates court, and who knows what further changes are on the horizon. On the rare occasion when I have to physically go to court, social distancing measures are in place throughout the building, and the place is eerily quiet with a hugely reduced number of people. As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, the criminal justice system will keep running with myself and my colleagues on hand to assist our clients when they need us most’.