You can read more about our recent research below.
If you would like to access some of our older research, please email the research team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In late June/early July 2021, our Criminal Law Committee sought views from all members of the Law Society on the not proven verdict. With indications from the Scottish Government that they are intending to carry out a consultation on Scotland's third verdict, they wanted to hear from members on the issue.
The responses received in the survey will help inform the Criminal Law Committee's response to any future Scottish Government consultation on this or related issues.
Our survey on remote civil court procedures is the latest in a number of Covid-19 related research projects since the outbreak of the pandemic. They have been undertaken to gain a better understanding of the impact coronavirus has had on the profession.
It is anticipated that this research into the use of technology in remote civil courts will help inform discussions with key stakeholders such as Scottish Government, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and Scottish Legal Aid Board as to how civil courts can better operate during the pandemic. Its findings should also build upon how the profession has already adapted during the pandemic and help contribute towards a more efficient and effective justice system for the future,
Inspired by the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) which is to be hosted in Glasgow on 1-12 November 2021, we have set up a new working group with a focus on COP26 and climate change.
The working group surveyed members of the profession in late October to mid-November to gather views on the conference and climate change more generally.
145 responses were received to the online survey. These results provide an opportunity for the working group to identify opportunities to increase interest, awareness and involvement in and for the Scottish solicitor profession.
Private practice survey
In April/May 2020 we undertook a telephone survey with private practice firms to understand the financial impact the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent restrictions were having on the sector.
90% of firms surveyed reported a downturn in new business, with the majority also reporting reduced turnover and cashflow. The information gathered in the survey is being used to give an evidence base to conversations with UK and Scottish Governments and other stakeholders about the impact on the legal profession.
We carried out a second survey of private practice firms in October 2020, publishing our report on the findings in December 2020. The findings indicate that while workloads for Scottish legal firms have increased since the early part of lockdown, turnover has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
In-house legal teams
We have run a similar version of the survey with Heads of Legal Services/General Counsel in the in-house sector.
The survey took place with senior solicitors working in over 50 businesses and public services during June 2020.
We also surveyed the wider in-house legal community throgh an online survey during Jue and July 2020. More than 500 members responded to let us know what it was like working in in-house teams during the pandemic.
The Society undertook an online survey of its members between 30 June and 9 July 2020, to gain a better understanding of solicitors’ experience of a pilot for virtual custody court appearances, which took place by telephone or video conference.
Five virtual custody courts were piloted in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow and Saltcoats
The survey's respondents included solicitors appearing on behalf of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and those appearing as defence agents on behalf of their clients.
Each year we appoint independent researchers to survey our members.
The research is carried out with a sample of approximately 500 members. Within the context of ensuring that there is sufficient representation from big firm, high street, trainees and in-house (public and private) practitioners, the sample is randomly selected each year.
We know that our members are busy and very much appreciate you taking the time to speak to our researchers.
Our mental health survey, launched on Monday, 13 May -30 June 2019, was the first of its kind to carried out on a sector-wide basis in Scotland and was run in partnership with See Me, the national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
You can find out more about the research findings and our three-year action plan, published on 3 June 2020, where we set out a seven-step programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination within Scotland's legal sector, in the Lawscot Wellbeing section of the website.
The publication of the 2018 Profile of the Profession report is a landmark for us and for the legal profession. The research examined quality and diversity issues and was carried out by independent researchers Rocket Science. With over 2700 full responses from solicitors, trainee solicitors and accredited paralegals, it’s the biggest survey of its kind in Scotland.
We have also published a response to its findings setting out 28 steps we will take to address equality and diversity issues in the legal profession, which contains comparisons with other professions.
If you would like to know more about the report or the 28 steps we will take, please contact us at email@example.com
The survey of over 1,100 solicitors revealed that around one in eight respondents (12%) have experienced violence, a third (33%) have experienced threatening conduct and over one in four (27%) experienced threatening communications. Only a fifth (20%) of physical attacks on solicitors were reported to the police.
In addition to the questions on violence in the profession, the survey gathered data on pay, work life balance and views on the future of the profession.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.