Addressing barristers, the senior judiciary, and law students, he was unsparing in his analysis of proposed changes to the structure of the publicly funded Bar. He described a future in which talented candidates from diverse backgrounds no longer aspire to become criminal barristers. They dare not risk the inevitable level of debt in the context of a shrinking profession which will leave even the brightest and best with little prospect of a tenancy.

Mr Shaw set out the challenges: public ignorance and apathy about the fate of the criminal Bar, swingeing cuts to legal aid imposed by two successive Governments, and rising tuition fees - more than £60,000 of debt on entry to the profession is not remarkable. He drew parallels to television drama: when the BBC has to enter a ratings war, it is more likely to produce ‘X Factor’ than Shakespeare. Similarly, a bulk legal service will replace a personal one. “Never mind the lament for the high street butcher, cheesemonger, baker, ironmonger. You’ll struggle to find a high street solicitor before long.”

Articulating his fear that the ‘Bar is in very real danger’, Mr Shaw emphasised the importance of the criminal barrister: an independent specialist whose overriding responsibility is to see justice done. Deregulation would lead to “a no-frills, cheap and cheerful bulk legal service. Tesco Law, Asda Legal, and, for the cachet of a Silk, Waitrose Lex.” His view is that excellence produces justice. Bulk commerce on the other hand trades in adequacy.

Mr Shaw called on the Government to “pull back from proposals which will so erode the Bar as to destroy it.” This is a small profession of highly trained experts, providing the public with a service it deserves and upon which it relies without a moment’s thought.Drawing an analogy with medicine, he said: “When I go into hospital I want someone trained and practising for years. And when I’m having my hip replaced, I don’t want it done by a dentist.”

He considers criminal law stratified, difficult, ever-expanding, hard to master and very hard to keep abreast of. In-house advocacy will not be cheaper and just as good. Things will go wrong, and the Court of Appeal is an expensive place.