You report the excellent news that of the 25 highest-earning criminal legal aid firms, only a tiny minority will sign the new contract. This shows that, at long last, our branch of the profession has found its spine. Governments have respect only for those who fight hard, as our medical colleagues know. It may, however, be too little and too late.

What spoils the scene is that those firms will sign, in spite of them accepting that the contracts are economically unviable. It sounds like a barmy business model to me, but then I gave up criminal law as unviable years ago and never regretted it.

Thus the government will be encouraged to press on, expecting that solicitors will, as usual, find working at a loss better than finding a job outside the law or not working at all. Even if enough firms do not sign, the government expects that enough out-of-work solicitors will sign up with Stobart to do long hours at rock-bottom pay. It is a depressing thought but the problem is, they will.

John O’Donnell, senior partner, odonnells solicitors, Preston