Chloe Jay, Criminal Defence Solicitor #First100Years

Chloe Jay, Criminal Defence Solicitor #First100Years

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So my name is Chloe Jay I’m a partner at
Shentons law firm, Shentons solicitors and mediators and I work as a criminal
defense solicitor and solicitor advocate. I first became interested in law when I
was about 13 and did some work experience for the Crown Prosecution
Service actually and I managed I was lucky enough to watch a whole crown
court trial and I just thought it was the most dramatic, exciting thing at the
age of 13 that I’d ever seen and I just thought that this is what I want to do I
want to be a part of this. So I carried on with you know studies etc. and then as
I got older and looked into criminal law more I became more sort of passionate
about defending people specifically and making sure sort of vulnerable people
had a voice because there’s a huge overlap in the criminal justice system
with those with mental health problems, drug addiction, learning difficulties, and
I really wanted to specifically represent those people so that’s why I
chose this specific role within the justice system. Well I think it’s really important to
have a proper gender representation and like it is in any kind of sector but
particularly in the justice system where you’re dealing with vulnerable
defendants, vulnerable victims, witnesses it’s important for there to be women in
the professionals that they see, the judges, the lawyers, the police
officers, I think it’s extremely important to have men and women in those
roles to give balance. There’s lots of research now to show that women, women on
board big board members make that the boards as a whole make better decisions
because there are a gender balance and I think that’s true for for sort of all
kind of areas including the justice system really I think women have an
important part to play a do perhaps a different perspective to bring to things. No specific barriers to me really, I
think there I’ve always I’ve never had anyone tell me I couldn’t do it and I
wouldn’t have listened to them if they had so I was determined to do it! Challenges, you know being being female
being a working mother is obviously a challenge but I think that’s true for
you know lots of professions and for lots of and for working dads as well.
It’s not a nine-to-five job, it’s late nights often and so obviously that’s
difficult when you have a baby any young child but I yeah I’ve never sort of let
that stop me and I’ve really enjoyed that. Challenges-wise generally, the cuts
to funding in the system particularly legal aid has… has made the job harder
and that is a real challenge. I see all the people that I work with trying to do
more work in less time and under more pressure than they’ve ever been before
in the sort of 15 years or so that I’ve been in this industry so I think that
that brings with it a challenge and I really hope that we’re going to see a
change to that in the future. I like this probably the same advice I
give to one who wants to do this job it’s not
for the faint-hearted you know we do look at some pretty difficult material
and post mortems, images of child sex abuse, it’s pretty you know the worst of
that the world can bring to you really but you know it’s it’s an incredibly
rewarding job in other ways and I would I would say that if you want to do it
then certainly not to let anyone put you off doing it and I think we are
desperately in need of lawyers for the future young people coming through we’re
not seeing new defense solicitors coming through I don’t know in our area of
anyone now really below the age of 35 and when I started sort of 10 15 years
ago there were lots of people my age but there there are very few coming through
now and it’s a real it’s a real problem so I would definitely encourage people
to to go into the job because we need lots of new and new young
professionals definitely. So the challenges for the justice system
as a whole I think art has to be the funding of it that is by far the biggest
strain I think on everything. I’ve seen police officers under far more strain
with far bigger numbers of cases and they’ve ever had before, similarly with
the Crown Prosecution Service and the defence and probation as well and I
think that is becoming increasingly worrying. The strengths of the system are
the people that work in it really because it’s just there’s just nothing
so engaging and human as the stories in the criminal justice system and I think
luckily everyone who works in it that most people I know are really passionate
about it and they will go that extra mile to, you know, get justice for
whichever side they’re on and whatever they feel passionately about and I think
that’s what keeps the system going and it’s those those strong professional
people that really want to make it work that make it at the brilliant system
that it is. Yes I’m the defence representative on
the on the local criminal justice board and I think the board has really come
into its own in the last few years I think we’ve been doing some really
brilliant work, bringing ideas together and understanding the different roles
that we have in the different agencies and how we can work together to to bring
sort of more harmony and to you know make things more efficient because
basically we have to be ultra efficient to work under the sort of funding
schemes that we’re in and I think the board has been really instrumental in
kind of bringing that together and making sure that when a change comes in
to say the court service we all understand the change before it comes
and and for the defence we don’t have a central body really so it’s my job to
kind of make sure that I get the word out there to all the other defence
solicitors in the county so that we can ensure that we know what’s coming and
they can be prepared for it and because ultimately when things change it can
often lead to confusion and you know inefficiency if you don’t know what’s
coming so I think the board’s been really great at doing that and and
understanding what the big issues are and you know how we can kind of tackle
those so we keep looking at not you know knife crime and modern slavery and all
of those kind of key issues and understanding how big the problem is or
what we can all do to kind of help help with it. Just keep going! You’re get you’re going
to get you’re going to get there and it’s going to be the best job in the
world, yeah that’s it! (laughs)

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