Lord Carter of Coles said outlined 62 recommendations for radical changes in the way solicitors and barristers were paid in England and Wales.
Criminal legal aid costs could be cut by 20% over four years, freeing up more than £100m a year to be redirected to the under-funded areas of civil and family law, Lord Carter said. Legal aid costs have risen from £1.5bn in 1997 to £2.1bn today.
Launching the 200-page review, he said: “We would like to see the end of the £1m-a-year criminal defence barrister.
“The existing system does permit people to make unreasonably large amounts of money. We believe the new system can actually find ways to constrain that.”
The report predicted that potential gross earnings for a QC would be £196,000 a year. Lord Carter confirmed that his proposals would not lead to a fall in the overall legal aid budget.
“They will redistribute some of the money,” he said. “The main thing for these reforms is to keep cost under control.”
About 60% of legal aid is spent on criminal work and the remainder on civil and family cases. Lord Carter said his proposals would switch about 5% from criminal work to the other categories.