The study, by Dr Debora Price and Anne Laybourne of King’s College London’s King’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy examined in detail over 5,000 cases undertaken by more than 1,600 barristers.

The Work of the Family Bar paints a picture of a profession close to breaking point as it struggles to cope with increasingly complex caseloads, the pressure to protect the interests of vulnerable clients, disruptive patterns of work and repeated, demoralising cuts in pay.

Desmond Browne QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, said: ‘Government cuts in funding are driving skilled advocates out of publicly funded family work, leaving the most vulnerable in society at risk of serious miscarriages of justice and abuse. No child should be hazarded in this way.

The deep commitment of family barristers, many of whom are working at breaking point, has for too long been taken for granted. We naturally welcome the fact that children’s charities are now supporting our arguments. Hopefully the Government will now start to take notice of what the public interest requires. Barristers should not be asked to do family work at rates which are uneconomic, and which will hit women and BME practitioners especially hard.’