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Poor relation

14 February 2011

It is safe to say much of Ken Clarke’s Valentine’s haul was made up of love letters to another. Legal aid has got lawyers’ hearts a flutter with yesterday marking the closure of the consultation into what the MoJ openly admits is to be the biggest shakedown of the system since its inception 60 years ago.

Major providers went down to the wire preparing reams of responses to the government’s 51 question-long questionnaire. The grim process has at least given critics the chance to take their arguments to the next level. Recitation of welfare manifesto has been replaced with thorough research into the statistical and practical implications of a plan which aims to wipe £350m off the slate. Different groups have different gripes. The high street solicitor knows her time moonlighting as a local hero is up. The moneyed firms fear they will be called on to plug the gap with legal aid’s other half, pro bono. And the city law centre, already well acquainted with life on the b...

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