WORKING FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD
If working in the law sector while doing something tangible for your country appeals, then the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or Government Legal Service (GLS) could be for you. It is the main prosecuting authority in England and Wales and works in partnership with other agencies such as the police and courts reviewing criminal cases in order to see whether there is a realistic chance for a conviction to be made on the basis of the evidence available. If so, it advises the police during the early stages of the investigation, prepares cases for court, and presents those cases at court.
Ken Macdonald QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, says: ‘We are the biggest law firm in the country and we are increasingly designed to deliver justice to the community. I want a world-class prosecuting service at the heart of the criminal justice system helping to build a fairer and more decent society – a public prosecution service, respected and valued in those terms. This can only be achieved with the help, support and commitment of our staff.’
WORKING FOR THE CPS
There are three main roles within the CPS: Prosecutors (lawyers) who review and prosecute criminal cases as well as undertaking advice work, case building and advocacy; CPS Case Workers who assist the prosecutors with their casework by attending court and liaising with witnesses and other organisations within the criminal justice system; Administrators who work within all the different departments of the CPS including Finance, Learning and Development, and HR.
LEGAL TRAINING SCHEME
Training and professional development are both encouraged within the CPS, with the Law Society accrediting courses for lawyers. The Legal Trainee Scheme includes both pupillages, which last for one year, and training contracts, which last for two years. However, if you have relevant prior experience you may be able to apply for a reduction in your training period. Because the CPS only deals in criminal litigation and trainee solicitors are required to gain experience in three areas of the law, they must undertake one or more secondments in private practise outside CPS. However, pupils can serve the full 12 months with the CPS, but are encouraged to spend a month of the first six in chambers. They then spend their last six months working as prosecutors in the magistrates’ courts. If you successfully complete your training contract or pupillage you will be offered a post as a prosecutor. The starting salary for trainees is £18,425 and is then reviewed annually. For more information about the Legal Training Scheme contact firstname.lastname@example.org
LAW SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME
Once employed by the CPS you can apply for the Law Scholarship Scheme, which offers a clear development route from Administrator through to Crown Prosecutor, and pays fees for the Professional Skills Course (PSC) for trainee solicitors. For pupils it pays for the advocacy, forensic accounting and advice to counsel courses, as well as travelling costs. Study can be part time or distance learning, so you can still work while you learn.
If you’d like to ‘try before you buy’, work experience, mini-pupillages and job shadowing opportunities are available for prospective trainees. For details contact your local CPS office for details.
GOVERNMENT LEGAL SERVICE
The Government Legal Service (GLS) has very close links with the CPS, as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Its only client is the British Government and virtually all UK regulations are the work of the GLS. It employs around 1900 lawyers and trainees who advise government ministers on matters as diverse as education, tax, human rights, industry, and finance. The GLS litigates in all UK courts, as well as in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Like the CPS, the GLS offers both training contracts, which last for two years, and pupillages, which last for a year. Annually, about 25 places are offered but you need to be sure you’ll get an upper second-class degree or better to be considered. Although your degree doesn’t necessarily need to be in law, you will need strong analytical and communication and interpersonal skills. Non-law graduates have to complete the Common Professional Examination (CPE) and funding may be available for this. Trainee solicitors spend six months in four different seats over the two-year period before qualifying, while pupils divide their one-year pupillage between the GLS and chambers. The GLS pays your Legal Practice Course (LPC), or Bar Vocational Course (BVC) fees in full, as well as any other compulsory professional skills course fees. It also provides you with a grant of about £5,000 – £7,000 for the vocational year.
Starting salaries for trainees in London are between £21,300 – £23,900, while newly qualified rates in London are between £27,000 – £38,000, depending on the department. For more information, please refer to the website at www.gls.gov.uk, or email email@example.com
CPS: THE NUMBERS
The CPS was created by the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.
The CPS employs around 8,775 staff.
2,500 staff are lawyers.
30 per cent of employees are qualified prosecutors and more than 94 per cent of staff are engaged in frontline prosecutions.
Every year the CPS deals with more than 1.3 million cases in the magistrates’ court.
Every year the CPS deals with about 115,000 in the Crown Court.
The CPS has three headquarters based in London, York, and Birmingham.