You can read more about our recent published research below.

If you would like to access some of our older published research, please email the research team at

We commissioned Independent research and consultancy company Rocket Science to carry out an assessment of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) of legal aid spending in the areas of criminal, housing and family law.

This is the first study of its kind in Scotland which measures the financial, economic and social impacts of legal aid spending, identifies the beneficiaries and places a financial value on these impacts. The research highlights that for every £1 spent on housing, family or criminal legal aid, the benefit to the recipients and for wider society that is created during the case and after for a period of up to 12 months is, in many cases, substantially more than £1. 

We believe that this is important and valuable research which confirms that legal aid spend is a benefit not just to those who receive it, but also to wider society as a whole. It also shows that early intervention can help prevent problems for the client escalating and becoming more complex and costly to resolve.

The summary and full technical reports are available to download:

We have launched a new financial benchmarking survey, replacing the annual cost of time survey.

Further information on this survey can be found here.

In February 2017 we published a new report The Financial Health of Legal Aid Firms in Scotland. This significant report, the first of its kind, was researched and written for us by Otterburn Legal Consulting.

Unfortunately it does not make for comfortable reading.

The research, which had responses from 57 of Scotland’s law firms carrying out legal aid work, highlights a real risk that people relying on legal aid to help them, whether facing unlawful eviction, resolving custody of their children, or defending a criminal charge, may soon be unable to find a legal aid solicitor because many solicitors simply can’t afford to carry out legal aid work.

The report is part of our important ‘access to justice’ work and it is clear that Scotland’s legal aid system needs an urgent overhaul. We will work with the Scottish Government, Scottish Legal Aid Board and the newly created independent legal aid review group to ensure Scotland’s legal aid system delivers for those who depend upon it.

We would like to offer our thanks to the law firms who took the time to help us with our research and provided such invaluable, detailed submissions for this report.

Please take the time to read The Financial Health of Legal Aid Firms in Scotland and contribute to the debate, using #DefendLegalAid on social media. Or you can email your views, thoughts and observations to

Please note the £6.65 per hour figure in the research was reported as £6.29 in the February edition of our Journal magazine (published 20 February 2017). Since the magazine went to print at the beginning of February, the report’s author Otterburn Legal Consulting, carried out additional analysis and the figure has been updated to £6.65.

Each year we work with Ipsos MORI to carry out research with our members.

The research takes the form of a telephone interview and lasts for approximately 15-20 minutes. We ask members for their views on a range of subjects including how they think we could improve the service we provide to them as their professional body.

The research is carried out with a sample of 500 members. Within the context of ensuring that there is sufficient representation from big firm, high street, trainees, inhouse and legal aid practitioners, the sample is randomly selected each year.

We know that our members are busy and very much appreciate your having taken the time to speak to our researchers.

Read more about the 2016 results.

Previous results

In 2016 we commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a digital and technology audit of the Scottish legal profession.

In October 2016 we published the results in our Technology Survey Report.

In November 2014, our Legal Aid Committee published a discussion paper on legal assistance in Scotland. The consultation period closed on 30 January 2015.

We received over 50 responses from individuals and organisations. We have published these responses along with our consultation report. After analysing the consultation responses, in May 2015 we published our 18 key proposals in our recommendations paper ‘Legal Assistance in Scotland - Fit for the 21st Century’.

Read the consultation responses
Read the consultation report
Read the 18 key proposals in our recommendations paper ‘Legal Assistance in Scotland - Fit for the 21st Century’

If you have any queries or comments, or to find out more about the Society's work on legal aid please contact us on

In 2015 we conducted a survey to understand more about pro bono, its prevalence, the types of work carried out and the motivations solicitors have for conducting it. A copy of the survey is available to download.

We heard from respondents that a large number of solicitors across Scotland cary out pro bono, that the majority of this is carried out as an individual rather than through schemes organised by firms, and that the primary motivations are to improve access to justice, address unmet legal need and give something back to society. Some solicitors were keen to carry out pro bono but were deterred by requirements around insurance or around CPD, and we will be producing information to assist around this issues soon. We also asked about whether pro bono should become compulsory, and the overwhelming majority of respondents disagreed with such a policy, even with an exemption for those otherwise promoting access to justice.

Employment tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013 and since their introduction, the number of employment tribunal claims has reduced by over three quarters.

Concerned about the access to justice impact of these fees, we asked our members for views. These are included in a report which is available for download from this page. A range of views were expressed, though concern about the overall impact was near universal; some thought that a wider review on the wider role of  employment tribunals was required. We wrote to Chris Grayling MP, the Lord Chancellor, and Kenny MacAskill MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to ask for an urgent review of these fees. A review is now underway by the Ministry of Justice and we will be making representations around the impact of these fees.

If you would like to know more about this issue, please feel free to contact us direct by email.


Understanding issues affecting the Scottish legal profession and civic society.