Due to means testing and the general willingness of people to pay to save their driving licences, road traffic law is big business. A few firms are capitalising on this hitherto neglected area and raking it in with private fees, leaving the rest of us to scrape by on legal aid. Legal aid lawyers can no longer afford to ignore this important revenue stream - make it your New Year resolution to kick-start your road traffic law department.
Private client fees are very much higher that anything to be obtained on Legal Aid and nobody can blame High Street law firms (especially the smaller ones) for looking around for new sources of business. Legal Aid is still firmly in the Government's sights, despite the present failure to reach agreement with the Bar over high cost cases, and many firms with only a few partners will be forced to merge in the coming couple of years. This may not be a good time to be a solicitor, with the housing market at a standstill, and the big City firms nervously looking at the meltdown in the financial markets. The pessimists mourn the loss of fees from writing abstruse derivatives contracts, while the more sanguine are comforting themselves with the thought that there will be a lot of disputes over who gets to pay for sorting out this mess, and that litigators will be needed in large numbers. Time will tell. Lawyers employed by the Government don't get the fancy money seen in the City firms but quite a few of them are quietly happy to contemplate their bombproof pensions and keep their heads down. A few years ago a job with the CPS was strictly for second-rankers. Nowadays they are deluged with applications for traineeships, and some experienced advocates are running for the shelter of the Civil Service too.