Law Society launches survey on financial viability of legal aid firms
The Law Society of Scotland has launched an online survey on the financial viability of legal aid work in Scotland.
The Society is asking solicitors who carry out civil, criminal and children’s legal aid work to complete a confidential questionnaire to provide information on the financial status of legal aid firms across the country.
The research follows the Society’s consultation with members and other stakeholders last year, which resulted in a number of recommendations for reform which were published in ‘Legal Assistance in Scotland – Fit for the 21st Century’.
Christine McLintock, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Responses to our discussion paper in 2015 indicated that solicitors are finding it increasingly difficult to operate a legal aid firm on static or reducing revenue, while outgoings continue to increase.
“Legal Aid expenditure is lower, in cash terms, than levels of legal aid expenditure 15 years ago and there have been no increases in legal aid rates since 2011.
“We have growing concerns about the impact of this on the longer term viability of firms which do legal aid work and the availability of legal services in communities across Scotland. Access to justice is an essential component of a democratic society and should not depend on a person’s ability to pay. It’s important therefore that legal professionals who provide the legal assistance people need, can continue to afford to do so.
“We are encouraging all firms which do legal aid work to complete the survey to provide us with robust, independent information on the financial position of firms and the sustainability of civil, criminal and children’s legal aid work at firms operating in different parts of the country.”
The survey, which has been sent to cash room partners at legal aid firms across Scotland today, 19 May, is being carried out by independent researchers Otterburn Legal Consulting. All responses will remain confidential. The closing date is Monday, 20 June 2016.
To take part in the survey download the form from the Law Society of Scotland website: Legal Aid Survey