Meet the Team - Rod Hayler
11 June 2017
This is the twentieth and final post in our series designed to provide you with some information about the team at Old Bailey Solicitors, what they do and why they do it!
Today its the turn of another of our senior advocates and, some say, heartbeat of the firm, Rod Hayler
What is your job title?
How long have you been with Old Bailey Solicitors?
I joined the practice when I qualified as a solicitor in 2001. I became a Partner in the firm in 2005.
What did you do before joining Old Bailey Solicitors?
I completed my training with a firm of criminal solicitors in Sussex before joining some former colleagues at Old Bailey Solicitors.
What made you decide to become a criminal defence specialist?
I’m no longer sure where the idea to become a lawyer came from but I fear it may have had something to do with watching Anton Rodgers' character in May to December! I do know that I was certain about it from the age of about 12.
I set about finding work experience placements towards the end of school, then through college and university. I worked in a range of different law firms, dealing with civil law, conveyancing, family law, company law but it was always the criminal cases that inspired most interest. I also found that defending clients came more naturally to me than advising them about restrictive covenants or the terms of a business contract.
Some people treat criminal defence as a stepping stone. For me, it became the ultimate destination.
Describe your typical day at work
The typical day very rarely pans out quite how it might have been planned. I might be in the Crown Court, the Magistrates’ Court, the police station, visiting a client in prison, seeing clients at our offices in London or in Sussex or I might be catching up with paperwork. Often, my day will involve a number or all of these possibilities. The unpredictability of this line of work is its greatest asset and a regular frustration.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy meeting with clients at court and putting them at their ease. Clients can become frustrated when they don’t think they are being listened to or that all is not being done to clear their name. I take pride in the process of taking instructions, preparing a case plan and then demonstrating to the client that I have done what I said I would do. Walking out of court knowing that you achieved what you set out to achieve is also pretty satisfying.
What do you find most challenging?
Preparing for a trial is both challenging and rewarding. You have to second guess the line the prosecution are likely to take and the answers witnesses may produce during evidence. You can prepare for certain legal arguments and you can prepare your closing speech. Then, their evidence takes an unexpected turn or the prosecutor decides to run a ridiculous argument and everything is up in the air. Dealing with those moments in the heat of battle comes as instinct now. Trying to plan it all out in advance is both entirely necessary and completely impossible.
If you could implement one single change to the criminal justice system, what would it be?
Defendants should be treated with humanity and respect. In most cases, this means that they shouldn't have to sit inside a dock throughout every hearing of their case, separated from their lawyer and creating a prejudice that is unnecessary and harmful. Other jurisdictions around the world appear to be able to manage security whilst allowing the defendant to sit next to their lawyer at a desk. Our use of the dock, now often encased in Perspex screening all the way to the court ceiling, could and should be scaled back.