Criminal solicitors and barristers in England and Wales refused to attend court this morning, in protest at the Lib-Con coalition government’s proposed cuts to legal aid – the British state subsidy for legal representation.
Despite being closely involved in the proposed cut’s lengthy consultation period, British lawyers are almost unanimously opposed to it on the grounds that it will limit people’s access to justice and have a substantial impact on the earnings of working lawyers.
Despite the cuts having the potential to destroy completely the criminal-justice system as we know it, there are a number of reasons why this ‘non-attendance’ – everyone involved is desperate not to call it a ‘strike’ – will ultimately fail to capture public attention.
Firstly, it is not flippant to point out that it was probably a bad idea for barristers to appear protesting in full wigs and gowns – looking every bit the overpaid elite, with pockets lined by public money, that the government has been making them out to be.
Secondly, timing the strike on the day that the majority of the country goes back to work after Christmas – which has been termed ‘the most depressing day of the year’ – means that most people were probably too busy facing their own work situation to care about someone else’s.