Junior lawyers

Stephen’s story: are defence solicitors facing extinction?

Stephen Davies is one of the youngest criminal defence solicitors in the country. He sets out the barriers discouraging junior lawyers from choosing criminal defence as a career path.


The criminal defence profession is shrinking rapidly. Only 4% of criminal duty solicitors are under the age of 35.

Many firms lack the resources to recruit the next generation of criminal defence lawyers.

On top of these challenges, criminal defence is increasingly seen by junior lawyers as an unattractive area of practice.

Over 80% of respondents to our poll of junior lawyers agree that criminal defence is not an attractive long-term career.

Low pay, long hours, emotionally draining work, lack of respect from the public and poor work-life balance were common responses to the survey.

“What other business is still charging 1995 rates?” asked one junior lawyer.

Another remarked that they were “underpaid and overworked. It is absolutely exhausting, and the pay does not reflect the hours and work put in”.

“Practitioners are stretched very thin,” Stephen explains. “The impact of cuts and people leaving means that this profession is heading towards extinction.”

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