Sharp decline in legal aid fees as pandemic wages on
Legal aid practitioners suffered an expected decline in earnings in the second year of the pandemic, figures from the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) show.
League tables published by SLAB indicate that Tony Lenehan was the highest paid legal aid advocate in 2020-21. Mr Lenehan’s fees stood at £229,000 in 2020-21, down £105,000, or 32 per cent, on the previous year.
John McElroy took second place this year, rising from ninth, with earnings of £186,000 – a 23 per cent decline on his £241,000 in the previous year.
Louise Arrol ranked third, rising from sixth, with earnings of £182,000, a 35 per cent drop of £98,000 on the previous year.
Julian Aitken rose from fifteenth to fourth place this year. His earnings were £180,000, a decline of five per cent, or £9,000, on the year before.
Fifth place went to Anthony Graham QC, who made £170,000, a 47 per cent decline of £150,000 on the previous year.
As for law firms, Latta & Co Solicitors retained first place for the second year running. It saw a 19 per cent decline in fees, which stood at 1,560,000 in 2020-21, a £373,000 decline on the previous year.
Livingstone Brown rose from fourth to second place with earnings of £1,531,000, an eight per cent increase of £118,000 on the previous year.
Paterson Bell Solicitors took third place this year – up from last year’s fifth – with fees of £1,229,000: a £150,000, or 11 per cent, decline on the 2019-2020 figure.
Bruce McCormack dropped to fourth place this year with fees of £1,222,000, a 15 per cent decline of £214,000.
Martin, Johnston & Socha Ltd Solicitors fell from second to fifth place with fees of £1,136,000. This represents a 25 per cent decline of £369,000 on the previous year.