The comments of John Greenwood (‘Career path for criminal law’, 5 March) are valid in terms of the competence of criminal defence solicitors.

Unfortunately, the reality of the Criminal Legal Aid Contract 2017 effectively puts paid to such a dual role. The restrictive application by the Legal Aid Agency of the 14 hours-a-week provision means, in practice, that lucrative private work, agency work and even court-appointed work is now turned away if it jeopardises the amount of time spent on ‘contract work’; as such, other time does not count towards the 14-hour calculation.

Though the Carter review and subsequent developments have encouraged defence firms to be more commercially minded, this situation frustrates any attempt to be so inclined. The way in which the LAA approaches the issue leads one to assume that the desired end result is a large number of small pseudo-PDS offices spread around the country engaging only in publicly funded work.

H D Kehler, Baileys Law, Bodmin