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Fighting a battle on different fronts

Legal aid lawyers don't need your sympathy, says Andrew Sperling − the people they represent do

9 August 2013

I am a legal aid lawyer. Often, I act for prisoners. I didn't always plan to do this for a living but things do not always go to plan. I trained as a lawyer in the early 1990s, and when it came to deciding what work I wanted to do I turned my back on a fairly lucrative offer of a job doing entertainment law because I thought that, once I had got over the excitement of meeting pop stars, I might get bored with drafting contracts. I also felt a compulsion to do something to contribute to a society which I felt had been rather good to me.

I started my working life as a trainee solicitor in a high street firm in east London, and was shocked by the sheer level of desperation and need that I encountered on a daily basis. I acted for mothers whose children had been taken into care against their will, for estranged fathers who wanted to see their children, for people who could not work but had been unlawfully denied welfare benefits and for people who had suffered ...

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