It is incredibly heartening to see that the iniquitous financial penalties added to court fines have been abandoned.

To any lawyer, the idea of an innocent person being coerced into pleading guilty for fear of such a penalty is repugnant. The law is something we all know is unique. Its ethos, history, the immutability of concepts such as justice, freedom under the law and the presumption of innocence, are so ingrained that when they are threatened we feel an arrow to our heart.

It has given us a chance to pause and reflect what it is to be a lawyer and the incredible privilege we have to practise law.

No matter that the press has a totally skewed idea of us that they never fail to convey to the public; the fact remains that lawyers alone of the professions are prepared to give their time pro bono so often.

What other profession would have tolerated the endless pressures and degrading treatment we have received over decades, while practising legal aid for poor and ever diminishing reward? We can take a bow.

Recently, in the name of reform, there has been great upheaval and I fear there is much more to come, but as has just been proved, everyone has a sticking point.

It has never been more important for lawyers to stand up and be counted – if not now, when?

I urge those who hold the future of the law in their hands to proceed with the greatest care.

John Greenwood, Chippenham, Wilts