Midland crown courts could start to be affected by protest action by barristers over fee cuts next week.
Up to 90 per cent of criminal barristers in Birmingham have decided to suspend work on new legal aid representation orders sent to crown court dated October 3 or later.
The move, it is claimed, will mean possible disruption at crown courts by October 12.
However, most barristers have decided to delay outright rejection of such cases until Friday.
Monday's meeting of about 170 criminal law barristers at Birmingham's Thistle Hotel with Circuit Leader Peter Joyce QC saw most decide to see what came of current negotiations with the Lord Chancellor before more serious action.
Further protests could include refusing to handle ongoing legal aid cases which are not a barrister's own - work typically making up two thirds of his or her workload.
The dispute stems from an eight-year pay freeze of legal aid rates in criminal trials lasting up to 10 days - a move affecting the bulk of Britain's barristers - and further cuts meaning defence QCs and those in longer trials receive less money.
"The Lord Chancellor has not made any promises but we are hopeful those negotiating on our behalf have convinced him not only are the proposed cuts unjust but not in the public interest," said Tony McDaid, practice director of No 5 Chambers.
"The English legal system is revered throughout the world and held up as a model. Those who practice in criminal law are not the fat cats portrayed in the press.
"There are lucrative areas of work in which members of the Bar practice, but they choose crime because they feel it is their vocation. It is a nonsense to create, for example, more human rights legislation and then under-fund those responsible for implementing such legislation.
"Ultimately this will lead to a lowering of standards of advocacy and it will be impossible to recruit intelligent, skilled graduates to this area of work."
Bill Maynard, practice manager at Citadel - which has 54 criminal law barristers - said: "So far an overwhelming majority on the part of the bar are in support of action, although it is a decision entirely up to the individual. But the cuts affect so many barristers you have to consider how many can be left to await Lord Carter's review in January.
"One hopes that with pause for reflection common sense will prevail."