Calling all criminal practitioners. What say you to the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates? Are you ready to be judged on your next trip to Teesside Combined Court Centre? Is it likely that you will make the grade? Have you boned yourself up on the 161 criteria?
For those who are not yet familiar with the QASA, it seems that we are to be graded by the Judges. Next time you make that ‘marginal’ submission on your client’s instructions, watch out for the Judge’s pen. If it is yellow, you are a beginner and your very career hangs in the balance. If it is cerise and you are desperate for silk, all may ride on your draw of Judge. Let us hope it is not the one you upset last week, or you will have to forget the whole thing and ask your clerk for a couple of briefs in the magistrates court instead.
Appendix 1: (just beyond page 41 of the Great Little Guide to QASA produced to make the scheme transparent and simple), sets out the ‘statement of standards’. Then scroll down to Appendix 2 to see how the Judge’s will decide your fate. But if you are truly ambitious, make sure you read (and learn) all two hundred pages. You know what they say about exams – it is all decided by the way in which you answer the questions.
The blogger tends towards Lord Justice Moses‘ approach to the topic. There does seem to be something uncomfortable about standing up to the judge who may forever damage your prospects at the Bar. C143 – “press your client to plead guilty” looks like a recipe for disaster, as does B132 – “when tears appear, throw your hand in”. Beginners should watch A29 – meaning “do what I want you to do” and B91 – “be nice to witnesses”. B121 means “stop pressing just before the witness confesses” but B140 is the killer – “do as the judge pleases, and don’t upset him/her”.
The future of criminal advocacy is to be in good hands. It is now no longer the jury that you will have to please, but the judge.