I’m just going to look down at a couple of notes here. The next question is to ask the lawyer, “Do you or does your firm do all the legal work?” Now, this is where it gets a little bit confusing even for lawyers. In Western Australia, we have what they call a divided profession. We have solicitors who do all the paperwork in the office, and we have barristers that actually front up in court and do all the talking. The barristers are the ones that run the trials. The barristers are the ones that do the pleas. Basically everything that happens in court is done by the barrister. Everything happens behind the scenes is done by the solicitor or what we call the instructing solicitor. Now, when I say in Western Australia it’s divided… Sorry, it’s a Fused profession, that means that we are barristers and solicitors.
It’s a feature of history since around Federation when barristers wouldn’t come to Western Australia to run trials for the solicitors. So we have this modality over here. We’re both barristers and solicitors. To make it more complex, there are barristers who only do the barrister work. They’re called barristers of law and they’re up in various chambers around Perth.
Now, some little firms may not do any of the barrister work even though the lawyers that you’re talking to are also barristers and solicitors. Gets a bit confusing, but you need to ask yourself or you need to ask the lawyer, “Do you do or does your firm handle all the legal work?” That is the legal work from the paperwork, the negotiations with the police right through to all the work that’s done in court: running a trial, conducting a plea in mitigation.
At Saupin at Criminal Lawyers, Perth, myself, Marc Saupin, I do all the barristers work and Natalie and other lawyers do the solicitors work to instruct me. So it’s a one-stop-shop and that may be important to you. So you get that continuity of access to the legal representations. Having said that, many law firms practice in both areas and some law firms only practice in one area that is, they do the instructing solicitor bit and they farm it out or brief it out to barristers. It works out the same either way. The second… I’m going to look down here at my notes. The second question you need to ask is, “How regularly do these lawyers appear in court?” Are they there every day? Are they there a once a month? And when we say the court, we’re talking about the magistrate’s court, everything starts in the magistrate’s court at the beginning.
Then it goes to the district court for some matters if they’re indictable and then other matters go to Sterling Gardens Magistrates Court and then up to the supreme court. In one of the vlogs, I’m going to go through all those steps and stages and outline and go through all the court system. The legal framework is, sorry, the court framework is as it implies in this state, it’s pretty representative of the court system everywhere else in Australia and indeed around the world where the common law prevails. So the question is, do your lawyers appear regularly in courts? The more you appear, the more you learn and the further up you get up the learning curve. The next question you need to be asking is, depending on whether you’re considering taking your matter to trial that is, pleading not guilty or pleading guilty will indicate to the lawyers as to what path you’re going along.
Now it’s very hard over the telephone for any lawyer to sit down and take instructions and then advise you that this is a guilty plea or not guilty plea. Invariably, individuals phone us up and say, I’ve been charged with this. It did not happen. Well, when you get something unequivocal as that then you can say to the person, “Well, you’re on a trial track, but I still need to know more about what your charges are. I need to know more about what’s happened in the police investigation and so on.”
But the point I’m making here is that you need to be able to be sure that that lawyer and that law firm is competent in handling, whether it’s a trial, a serious matter, or simple matter in the magistrates’ court or plain mitigation in either court, simple magistrates court, a district court, or supreme court. You’re really trying to get from that law firm of the lawyer you’re speaking to on the phone. How much confidence do they have that they can manage your problem? And invariably you’ll get some really good answers from the lawyers around Perth because they’re very highly trained.