Criminal lawyers have warned that redundancies and firm closures will lead to advice deserts within months of legal aid cuts being introduced, as lawyers around the country stage a day-long protest.

The Criminal Law Solicitors' Association (CLSA) and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association (LCCSA) said the impact of the first round of 8.75% cuts to solicitors' fees, being implemented on 20 March, will force hundreds of firms to close.

The government last week unveiled its final package of reforms, pressing ahead with cuts and restructuring, despite opposition from the professions and warnings from its independent advisers - accountants KPMG.

The groups said experienced lawyers will become 'legal relics' and that advice deserts will emerge in rural areas, cities and towns.

In protest over fee cuts and other changes to the way criminal legal aid is administered, hundreds of barristers and solicitors will not attend court today, but will instead take part in demonstrations, marches and training days.

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