LONDON – Hundreds of British lawyers — many dressed in traditional white curled wigs and black gowns — have swapped courtrooms for picket lines to protest planned cuts to legal aid.
Hearings were disrupted Monday at courts including London's famous Old Bailey as barristers staged their first national walkout.
The British government, which has slashed spending in the name of deficit reduction, plans to cut lawyers' fees to reduce the legal aid budget by 220 million pounds ($360 million) by 2019.
Lawyers' groups say that will discourage attorneys from taking criminal defense work, which relies heavily on legal aid.
The government insists barristers are generously paid, with 1,200 receiving 100,000 pounds ($164,000) in income from legal aid last year.
The Criminal Bar Association says the average earnings were around 36,000 pounds ($59,000).