84139 - Higher Courts Advocate

£54,358 - £61,585
12 Months
North East
LAA Stephenson House, FLR 3, DL1 4WB
Grade 7
Grade 7
Full Time
Legal Services

Job Title:    Higher Courts Advocate

Contract Type:    Permanent

Grade:    G7

Salary range:    National £54,358 - £61,585

Location:    Darlington/ North East

Directorate/Team:    Public Defender Service 

Public Defender Service

The Public Defender Service (PDS) is a department of the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) that operates alongside private providers delivering a full range of high-quality services within the criminal-defence market.  

Advocates are briefed both by in-house Solicitors and Solicitors in private practice to conduct cases before the Crown Court, Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. They deal with matters of all types, complexity, sensitivity and gravity.

The post holder will provide advice, assistance and representation to individuals who are subject to the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence, with particular emphasis on advocacy relating to serious, complicated and sensitive criminal casework in the Crown Court and the Superior Courts.

The post holder will be part of an effective defence-litigation team, preparing and managing case plans, acting as sole Advocate or being led as Junior Counsel.  

As a result of the experience gained from its participation in these areas, the PDS contributes credible and expert advice to the government on service and policy development affecting the criminal-justice system and acts as a test-bed for innovation and quality improvements.  

Our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

We are committed to diversity and inclusion and we positively promote flexible working, including job shares. 

We will consider all applications on merit regardless of age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, religion, ethnicity, preferred working pattern and except for exceptional circumstances your working location. 

As a Disability Confident organisation, we will offer a guaranteed interview to candidates with a disability who meet the essential criteria for this role. Under the Equality Act 2010 a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months. 

If you are responding to a role within the Legal Aid Agency and would like to be considered under the guaranteed interview, please ensure that you attach the Disability Confident Scheme Form when you return your application. You can use the same form to let the recruiting manager know of any reasonable adjustments you may require during the sift or later selection processes. 

Job Summary

Key responsibilities 

•    Conduct criminal cases before courts at all levels throughout England and Wales to the highest professional standards.
•    Act as sole Advocate or be led as Junior Advocate in relation to a range of Higher Court cases and Judicial Reviews (i.e. cases/applications before the Crown Court, High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court) including complex, serious and sensitive cases, where fast-paced, legally-sound decision-making and advocacy are required.
•    Utilise a high level of up-to-date knowledge of criminal law and procedure, including in relation to complex, serious and sensitive cases, and procedure in the higher courts.
•    Upon reviewing prosecution evidence and receiving instructions from clients, conduct analysis and decide on case management strategies, including defence tactics, procurement of defence evidence – including expert witnesses - and the provision of plea and defence advice to defendants.
•    Provide leadership in tactic and case planning as part of a defence litigation team.
•    Decide upon the merits of appealing convictions and sentences and provide advice and representation to clients on appeals and judicial reviews in the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
•    Maintain excellent working relationships within the PDS and the wider LAA/MoJ, sharing expertise and knowledge, and informing policy-making and changes to the Criminal Justice System with experience gained in your practice. 
•    Act as a role model for other Advocates and team members, including providing training and mentoring to colleagues. 
•    Supervise pupil barristers. 
•    Pursue own professional development.

Essential Criteria                     

•    Barrister or Solicitor-Advocate with a minimum of 5 years PQE, fully qualified to practise in England & Wales and with substantial criminal-law practice experience in the Higher Courts.
•    Established practitioner with significant solicitor following. 
•    Advanced advocacy skills.
•    Ability to establish a rapport with criminal-defence clients.
•    Commitment to the goal of PDS to become an exemplar of best practice in criminal advocacy.
•    Flexibility and preparedness to travel if required.

Desirable Criteria                     

•    Experience as a pupil supervisor. 

Assessment approach 

Application Process

You will be assessed on the essential criteria for the role via a CV and a Statement of Suitability.

Interview Process

If you are successful through the application stage, you will be invited to an interview via MS Teams. You will be assessed in relation to: 

•    Your qualifications and experience as a Higher Courts Advocate. 
•    The Strengths relevant to the role. 

Information about Success Profiles, the recruitment framework used in the Civil Service can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/success-profiles 

If you would like more information on this opportunity, please contact pdsclerks@justice.gov.uk

Complaints procedure

If you have any complaints about this recruitment activity, please share your concerns by emailing LAAPeopleTeam@justice.gov.uk initially. We aim to respond to any complaint within 10 working days.

If you are dissatisfied with our response, we will forward your complaint to the Civil Service Commission, an independent body, for review.

Professional memberships
Admission to the Bar with valid practising certificate or admission to the Roll of Solicitors with higher rights of audience

Working Arrangements & Further Information

The MoJ offers Hybrid Working arrangements where business need allows. This is an informal, non-contractual form of flexible working that blends working from your base location, different MoJ sites and / or from home (please be aware that this role can only be worked in the UK and not overseas). Some roles will not be suitable for Hybrid Working. Similarly, Hybrid Working will not suit everyone’s circumstances. Arrangements will be discussed and agreed with the successful candidate(s) and subject to regular review.

For nationally advertised roles, the successful candidate(s) will be appointed to a MoJ office location, which may include their nearest Justice Collaboration Centre or Justice Satellite Office. This will be discussed and agreed on the completion of pre-employment checks.

Some of MoJ’s terms and conditions of service are changing as part of Civil Service reform. The changes will apply to staff joining MoJ who are new to the Civil Service. Staff joining MoJ from other civil service employers will transfer onto the new MoJ terms if they are already on 'modernised' terms in their current post or onto 'unmodernised' MoJ terms if they are on 'unmodernised' terms at their current post. Details will be available if an offer is made.

MoJ candidates who are on a specialist grade, will be able to retain their grade on lateral transfer.

All candidates who are currently in receipt of Mark Time / Pay Protection should ensure they are familiar with the new policy on permanent and temporary promotion which can be found on the employee intranet.

Flexible working hours

The Ministry of Justice offers a flexible working system in many offices.


The MoJ offers a range of benefits:

Annual Leave

Annual leave is 25 days on appointment and will increase to 30 days after five years’ service.

There is also a scheme to allow qualifying staff to buy or sell up to three days leave each year. Additional paid time off for public holidays and 1 privilege day. Leave for part-time and job share posts will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.


The Civil Service offers a choice of pension schemes, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best.


The Ministry of Justice is committed to staff development and offers an extensive range of training and development opportunities.


The opportunity to join employee-run networks that have been established to provide advice and support and to enable the views of employees from minority groups to be expressed direct to senior management. There are currently networks for employees of minority ethnic origin, employees with disabilities, employees with caring responsibilities, women employees, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.


  • A range of ‘Family Friendly’ policies such as opportunities to work reduced hours or job share.
  • Access to flexible benefits such as voluntary benefits, retail vouchers and discounts on a range of goods and services.
  • For moves to or from another employer or moves across the Civil Service this can have implications on your eligibility to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for alternative government childcare support schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. More information can be found on GOV.UK or Childcare Choices. You can determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.
  • Paid paternity, adoption and maternity leave.
  • Free annual sight tests for employees who use computer screens.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles. Should you feel that the recruitment process has breached the recruitment principles you are able to raise a formal complaint in the following order

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As a Disability Confident employer, MoJ are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities, by making adjustments throughout all elements of the recruitment process and in the workplace. MoJ are able to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns.

You will be able to request reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process within the application form. If you need additional help completing the application form, please contact the SSCL Recruitment Enquiries Team.

We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity.

Interviews are planned for March 2024.

26/02/2024, 23:55 hours.

If you require any assistance please call 0345 241 5359 (Monday to Friday 8am - 6pm) or e mail Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com Please quote the job reference - 84139.

To apply for roles in MOJ you will need to confirm your employment history for at least 3 years prior to the date of application so that pre-employment checks (BPSS) can be undertaken. If you have spent significant time abroad (a total of 6 months in the past 3 years) you would be required to give a reasonable account of the reasons why. 

For some roles you will be required to successfully complete National Security Vetting at Counter Terrorism (CTC), Security Clearance (SC) or Developed Vetting (DV) level as a condition of appointment. To meet CTC/SC/DV requirements you will normally need to have been resident in the UK for at least 3/5/10 years prior to the date of application (The level of checks that are required are stated in the advert).

If you do not meet the above requirements, you may still be considered if, for example:

  • You've been serving overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of HM Government
  • You were studying abroad
  • You were living overseas with parents

In such cases you will need to be able to provide referee cover for the period(s) of residence overseas. The duration of overseas residence and the country of abode will also be taken into account.

Success Profiles will enable a fairer and more inclusive method of recruitment by enabling us to assess the range of experiences, abilities, strengths, behaviours and technical/professional skills required for different roles. This flexible approach to recruitment focuses more on finding the right candidate for the specific role. To find out more about Success Profiles to support your application please click here for further guidance.

if you feel that your application has not been treated in line with the Civil Service Recruitment Principles, please contact SSCL (Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com) in the first instance

We have provided detail of the assessment stages and areas being assessed to help you prepare for completing your application form, and to advise of what will be assessed following this, if you successfully pass the application stage.

Application form stage assessments

Statement of Suitability - 500 word limit

Interview stage assessments

There is 1 interview stage for this vacancy.
Variety and complexity of casework
Building and maintaining a criminal law practice
Commercial awareness
Strengths may also be assessed at interview but these are not shared in advance.

A Great Place to Work for Veterans

The "Making the Civil Service a Great Place to work for veterans" initiative includes a guaranteed interview scheme to those who meet the minimum criteria to provide eligible former members of the Armed Forces with opportunities to secure rewarding jobs. Allowing veterans to continue to serve their country, and to bring highly skilled individuals with a broad range of experience into the Civil Service in an environment, which recognises and values your previous service in the Armed Forces.
For further details about the initiative and eligibility requirements visit : https://www.gov.uk/government/news/making-the-civil-service-a-great-place-to-work-for-veterans

Redeployment Interview Scheme

Civil Service departments are expected to explore redeployment opportunities before making an individual redundant. The MoJ are committed, as part of the Redeployment Interview Scheme, to providing opportunities to those who are 'at risk of redundancy'.

MoJ are able to offer an interview to eligible candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns. Candidate's will not be eligible for the Redeployment Interview Scheme if they are applying on promotion.

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

· UK nationals

· nationals of the Republic of Ireland

· nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK

· nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window) https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families

· nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

· individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020

· Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service

Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nationality-rules

This Vacancy is closed to applications.