With delays of up to four years for even straightforward cases, some barristers say their pay works out below an hourly minimum wage.
BBC home affairs journalist Claire Ellison has met with a barrister and a solicitor, both in their twenties and both working in criminal defence in London.
They explained the effect that friction in the criminal justice system has on the mental health of both practitioners and clients – and their fears that the financial pressures of the role could deter future lawyers from working in criminal defence.
Lawyers say many of these issues predate Covid-19, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.
This video was filmed in late 2020, before current lockdown.
Produced by Claire Ellison
Filmed and Edited by Alex Dackevych