Excellence Awards: Q&A with nominee Raj Chada
Raj Chada, a solicitor advocate at Hodge Jones & Allen and a specialist in criminal law, talks about the challenges faced by solicitor advocates, his professional highlights of the year so far, and what he’ll be working on in the months ahead.
What have been your professional highlights of 2017 so far?
My highlights involved a complicated bribery case at Southwark Crown Court, where the investigation spanned several different jurisdictions and involved large government contracts. Just a week later, I was representing activists from Black Lives Matter who had staged a protest on the M4. It is fair to say that I enjoy the range of challenges.
What are the major challenges facing solicitor advocates today, in your opinion?
As ever, time and money. The challenge for lawyers committed to publically funded work cannot be underestimated. However, that simply makes the fight more important, so that we keep the ideal alive - in criminal law, where your liberty and reputation is at stake, you should be entitled to the very best representation irrespective of means. You need time to do that and the demands on solicitor advocates is great. I fully support the modern day approach of more active case management, but we have to recognise the pressure that this puts on practitioners.
What will you be working on in the next couple of months?
I have been instructed by the Stanstead 15 - a case involving a protest at Stansted airport. I am looking forward to being led by one of the giants of advocacy, Michael Mansfield QC. I have also been instructed on a new Serious Fraud Office (SFO) corruption probe as well a high profile National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation - so I shall be continuing to work on a big variety of cases.
What advice do you have for solicitor advocates to survive and thrive today?
Don’t settle for anything but your best; it may be tempting to ‘just get by’ but there is no getting out of working hard for each case. Think of as many innovative arguments as possible. And enjoy it - it is a great job!
Have you noticed any trends in the courts at the moment?
Case management is an obvious trend. Despite the time pressures, it should play to solicitor advocates’ strengths - particularly those that litigate and advocate on their own case.