The Barristers' Benevolent Association (BBA) is bracing itself for a massive rise in the number of hard-up barristers asking for help as a consequence of the Government's legal aid reforms.
About £500,000 is raised every year to help barristers who have fallen on hard times through circumstances beyond their control – most notably illness. This year the BBA aims to raise over twice that amount.
It is predicting that many practices will fail as legal aid funding is removed from personal injury cases.
While the BBA says it will not subsidise inefficient practices, the mental illness and stress caused as funds are squeezed are considered “good reasons” for asking for help.
BBA treasurer Terence Mowschenson QC said: “We've been reading all week about fat cat barristers but 90 per cent of barristers live on modest earnings. Many 50-year-old barristers earn only £25,000 a year.
“If someone comes to us with the mortgage lender and VAT man on their back asking for a three-month loan, we want to make sure we have the resources to help them.”
He said the BBA aimed to raise £1.25m this year – the BBA's 125th anniversary – from special events. This Wednesday a concert will be held in the Temple church featuring the Medici String Quartet and clarinettist Michael Collins. Tickets are available from the BBA at 14 Gray's Inn Square or on the door.