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Criminal Defence - Sleepwalking to Bankruptcy

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Shaping the criminal defence firm of the future

Not a day goes by that we do not see in the legal press and elsewhere (particularly the specialist press covering developments in fintech (financial technology)) a story about robot lawyers, blockchain problem solving, data silos and a myriad of other seemingly wild suggestions as to how the future of law will be shaped.

They appear seemingly wild until you pause and reflect on the fact that some of the largest and smartest law firms in the world are investing millions of pounds into ensuring that they remain a relevant part of any future landscape. So, not so crazy after all.

The future of criminal justice is I suspect not quite as grand or sophisticated, but that is not to say that developments are not taking place around us. They are.

Youth crime has seemingly been all but abolished - that would be a fantastic achievement if only it were true.

Millions of pounds being spent on diversion, although one wonders what will happen in a few years time when those young people become adults, and the money has dried up - we can only hope that this brave new world of rehabilitation works.

Courts and police stations are closing, leaving businesses that contracted only a few months ago to supply services without a local market to service.

Because it is done in a piecemeal fashion and we are seemingly not a real party to the discussion, disquiet is heard only locally, in a fragmented and almost silent manner. We do not protest against it elsewhere because they haven't come for me yet. It was always thus.

Courts are going online, starting with TV licensing and low-level crime such as fare evasion - perhaps no great loss.

But how soon before the link between crime and criminal defence is broken entirely as the formal police station process disappears (we already see this with interviewing outside of custody), and finally the physical court process.

The problem for many is that they don't know what they don't know, and for many, that is the fact that they do need legal advice.

How will those clients choose to access us, and how can we ensure access to them?

Of course, the body that foots the bill has every incentive to break the link.

So, what are we doing about this? If anything, then nobody has told me.

This is, in business terms, the most critical threat we face, it is a national crisis threatening all firms, and it is only a few years away.