Your feature on Russia put me in mind of the time I hosted two Russian lawyers in 1995. The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 (pictured) and symbolised an opening of the Soviet bloc to contact with the west.

In 1985, the Law Society and the European Commission arranged for 22 Russian lawyers to enter into a programme to teach Russian lawyers how to operate in a market economy. I hosted two lawyers for three months during which time they experienced management of a legal practice, the court system and our way of life.

They were hugely impressed by the speed and efficiency of our criminal courts which was, in large part, the result of vigorous competition among solicitors instructed under legal aid.

Roll on to 2013 when a free market UK government proposes a Soviet-style system where a lawyer is chosen for the defendant. Life is funny isn’t it?

John O’Donnell odonnells solicitors, Preston