Criminal defence solicitors are under pressure. Changes to Legal Aid over recent years have severely cut the income of many firms, and one response has been for more solicitors to qualify for Higher Rights of Audience, permitting them to appear in the Crown Court. This obviates the need to brief Counsel and keeps the available fees in-house (and has the side effect of making life very difficult for the junior Bar).
It's not all plain sailing though, as this judge makes clear.
(Thanks to the excellent Crime Line for the link)
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