This paper examines how continued reductions in fee levels for criminal legal aid work affect recruitment and retention in the English publicly funded criminal defence profession. Data from 29 qualitative interviews with English defence solicitors and barristers are analysed to explore the impact of these reductions on recruitment of new lawyers and retention of current lawyers. On the basis of these findings, also building on research conducted by lawyer professional associations, I argue that a combination of cuts to legal aid, the resulting working patterns and low morale has led to a position where the criminal defence profession, as we know it, is unsustainable.
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