Legal aid used to be bread and butter to lawyers like me. I was as committed to a publicly funded legal service as I was to a publicly funded health service.

To me, both were cornerstones of a properly functioning welfare state.

On completing my Law Society finals, I opted for articles at (what was then) the biggest legal aid solicitors’ firm in the country, dispensing green form advice and applying for substantive certificates which would be typed on flimsy blue paper – initially without any limitations on the amount of costs you could incur or the work you could do.

Armed with such a certificate, the playing fields were levelled. My clients could pursue claims with proper legal representation, just as the ...

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