BARRISTERS are being asked to help pay the private school fees of colleagues who have fallen on hard times.
The Bar Benevolent Society of the Bar of Ireland, which provides assistance to barristers and their families in severe financial difficulties, has appealed to more than 2,000 barristers to help pay the school fees, mortgages, rent and utility bills faced by colleagues.
Legal fees paid to barristers vary widely, with some being paid €29 for a motion in the district court, running up to daily rates of €2,000 or more in the superior courts.
While the appeal to support those struggling to pay core household bills has been welcomed, the inclusion of school fees has angered some members of the profession who say those who cannot afford private schools should send their children to non-fee schools instead.
"The (school fees) was a bridge too far," said one barrister, who received the letter.
Charles Meenan, chairman of the benevolent society, wrote to barristers last month to appeal for extra donations.
This comes as many are struggling to pay law library dues and recover fees from clients.
The profession is also facing reform on costs as part of the EU/IMF bailout.
Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society, said many barristers were in "desperate straits".