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Solicitor advocates are preparing to celebrate their coming of age this spring with their first national annual conference.
The conference, taking place in May, has just been announced by the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates (SAHCA) which is buoyed up by a government promise to ease the restrictions governing the rights of audience of solicitors.
Vice-chair Mark Humphries, a partner at Linklaters, said SAHCA expected the Government to "blow away the ridiculous hurdles" preventing the rapid expansion of solicitor advocacy, and promised the conference would be a "flag-waving, banner-raising" event.
The ranks of solicitor advocates have grown painfully slowly since they were first allowed, but the qualification of the first batch of 34 CPS solicitor advocates has boosted the number to more than 500.
Humphries said up until now SAHCA had organised events and dinners but there were now enough solicitor advocates to justify a full conference.
Geoff Hoon, the parliamentary secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department, has also been invited to speak at the conference, which is on 16 May at the Radcliffe House Training and Conference Centre in Coventry.