According to a new report on the future of the bar (A brave new bar: are barristers ready to rethink and reshape their practice?
, LexisNexis), nearly 30 per cent of all the barristers surveyed saw the reductions in legal fees as the most critical challenge facing the profession. One of the respondents told the researchers: ‘The legal aid crisis is fundamental. Even as an experienced, successful barrister I spend much of my time working for free. I spend endless days, evenings and hours perfecting a case knowing I will not be paid for it’ (page 11). Another described legal aid and prosecution fees as ‘unsustainably low’.
While 67 per cent of those surveyed reported that they expected their practices to remain stable or to grow over the next five years, they were not so optimistic about the future of the profession. One respondent believed that some areas of the bar faced being ‘wiped out’ (page 5) and another warned: ‘Inadequate funding and recognition threatens the continuation of the bar as we know it.’