Lawyers have boycotted courts in the east and west of the country as protest action over proposed changes to criminal legal aid spread.
Defence solicitors withdrew their labour for the day from the custody courts at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paisley sheriff courts. Legal chiefs said the action strikes at the heart of access to justice in Scotland and is a sign of the concern and frustration being felt within the profession.
The escalating row centres around proposals contained in the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill. Lawyers are worried about plans for accused people with a disposable income of £68 a week or more to contribute to the cost of their defence in summary cases.
They are also concerned about moves for solicitors to collect the money themselves, instead of the Scottish Legal Aid Board, and say it will alter the relationship between lawyer and client.
The Glasgow Bar Association and Edinburgh Bar Association (EBA) confirmed they were boycotting the cities' custody courts, alongside colleagues at Paisley Sheriff Court. It comes less than 10 days after solicitors stayed away from Edinburgh Sheriff Court's custody court in a day of protest action.
EBA vice-president Mark Harrower said the Government was trying to force the changes through at a time when solicitors have reached "breaking point".
"Solicitors in Edinburgh are standing shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues in Glasgow and Paisley as the protest action spreads across courts in Scotland," he said.
"Lawyers are disappointed at the Justice Secretary's approach in recent days, which has been to give an indication in public that he is willing to negotiate with the Law Society and reach a sensible conclusion to this problem, whereas in fact he's refusing to budge.
"We feel he's seriously misjudged the sense of feeling amongst the profession, who've had to absorb repeated cuts in recent years. We feel we're left with no option but to withdraw our labour in the face of a Government which is taking a hard line.
"The strength of feeling about the manner in which these cuts are to be imposed upon us is unprecedented amongst the profession."