The number of family lawyers offering their services to legal aid clients has fallen by almost half in seven months.
Figures from the Ministry of Justice show 2095 lawyers were listed as providers of family legal aid in June last year. Now there are 1161.
The Law Society says lawyers are giving up legal aid work because it is uneconomic, due to an increase in paperwork and an impending reduction in payments.
But the ministry says many were not deeply involved in such work and it maintains there will be enough lawyers to meet the needs of legal aid clients.
The Law Society says there have also been significant drops in the civil and mental health divisions.
President Jonathan Temm told Morning Report the real surprise is that more lawyers have opted to continue doing legal aid work, as the system has been under a sustained attack.