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Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers are qualified solicitors and barristers responsible for reviewing and advising about all prosecution cases initiated by the police and for prosecuting cases in magistrates' courts and Crown Courts throughout England and Wales.

The Crown Prosecution Service was established in 1985 by the Prosecution of Offences Act to operate independently of the police in the prosecution of criminal cases in England and Wales.

What does a CPS lawyer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers are responsible for examining police evidence, deciding whether to take criminal proceedings through to court prosecution stage, preparing cases for court and conducting prosecutions. They are known as crown prosecutors and are employed by the CPS, which is a government agency. Other responsibilities include:

  • liaising with the police, court staff, defence solicitors and victims of crime etc
  • instructing and advising counsel in Crown Court cases
  • helping to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system
  • collaborating with other criminal justice/law enforcement agencies
  • ensuring that alleged criminal offenders are dealt with fairly

Qualifications and training required

The CPS Legal Trainee Scheme offers legal trainee posts for trainee solicitors and pupils (trainee barristers). You can only train as a solicitor or barrister with the CPS if you have a degree, either from a law or non-law discipline. Qualification is via the Bar course (formerly known everywhere as the Bar professional training course or BPTC, but now known by different names at different providers) for barristers or the legal practice course (LPC) for solicitors. Graduates without a law degree must also pass a conversion course, often referred to as the common professional examination (CPE) or graduate diploma in law (GDL).

Following academic qualification, barristers must take a vocational 'pupillage' (comprising training, job shadowing and possibly small case work) for a minimum of one year, while solicitors must undertake a two-year training contract. Pupils can spend their entire pupillage with the CPS, but trainee solicitors will be seconded to other practices to gain the breadth of experience expected by the Law Society.

Key skills for Crown Prosecution Service lawyers

  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Teamwork
  • Reasoning
  • Decision making
  • Advocacy

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