I write as a lawyer who acts very rarely with the benefit and burden of legal aid - I am a lawyer who acts in cases usually involving property, financial and probate disputes, and legal aid is no longer available for almost all of the cases that I act in. I was uncomfortable with that withdrawal - but I did not see it as an attack on access to justice or on justice itself, and my clients have found methods around the withdrawal of public funding that include the increased use of and resort to insurance policies and the use of other methods of funding such as conditional fee arrangements.
As to the proposed criminal legal aid reforms; it is interesting to note that with earlier reforms, such as the introduction of fixed fees, the fees then introduced have not even kept up with inflation. As a result, many junior barristers find themselves working very hard (and I know many other people do too) with very little and reducing rewards. The problem with criminal legal aid appears to be that proportion of legal aid that is taken up by very high costs cases. These cases involve the most serious criminal cases and very often some of the most serious issues facing our community.