It would be going too far to suggest that the Bar has had an easy ride from the government over the last 15 years or so, but as today's announcement on criminal legal aid shows (see below), it always does better than solicitors.

Once upon a time, of course, the legal profession was thought to have a short-cut to influencing the legislative process. Many of their number were in Parliament and government, not least as Lord Chancellor, of course, and they frequented the same clubs as MPs and peers.

Obviously this remains true to some extent - according to BPP University, last month's election returned 119 MPs with legal backgrounds, up from 85 in the 2010 Parliament.

But while we are now on our second non-lawyer Lord Chancellor and recent history shows that successive government have not been particularly friendly to the profession, the Bar has consistently proven itself a far more effective lobbying force than the Law Society and other solicitors' groups.

Why? The Bar prefers to do its lobbying behind the scenes – fielding heavyweight QCs at every turn – and has better connections in high-up places. And it still has a direct link to government with the Attorney General and Solicitor General attending meetings of the Bar Council as ex-officio members. The AG has been the titular leader of the Bar for some 200 years, a role I consider hard to justify.

The Bar also has the lever, which it used not long ago to great effect, of being able to bring the courts grinding to a halt. This captures ministers' attention very quickly.

Of course, the Bar is smaller and thus easier to mobilise, and arguably barristers can move into other areas of the law more easily than solicitors as well. There is also less consensus among solicitors (I know of one firm that deals with many high-profile cases which will be very happy to opt out of duty solicitor work).

But the immediate outpouring on Twitter from despairing criminal law solicitors today was that strike action has to happen. It is, the message seems to be, the only language ministers understand.

Will barristers stand with them if they do? We have seen previous governments seek to divide the profession, but surely on this issue at least - given the knock-on impact to the bar of a diminished law firm market, with those who remain looking to suck in as much advocacy work from the bar as they can - barristers and solicitors can and must make common cause.