Motherwell lawyer second highest for legal aid cash

Bruce the Lawyers
Bruce the Lawyers

A Motherwell-based law firm is the second highest criminal legal aid earner in Scotland.

Bruce the Lawyers was paid £1.34 million in 2017-18, according to annual figures released by the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

The leading firm was Martin Johnstone and Socha, of Dunfermline, who commanded £1.55 million in fees.

The figures show Scotland’s criminal legal aid bill is falling as more offenders avoid going to court by agreeing to fixed cash penalties and unpaid work orders.

The total amount given out to solicitors and advocates dropped by 13 per cent to £74.1 million in 2017-18.

A legal insider said: “There has been a substantial drop in the number of court prosecutions.

“Diversion schemes include police fixed penalty tickets, police warnings, fiscal fines and fiscal-imposed unpaid work orders.

“The annual report discloses exactly what each criminal legal aid firm has been paid.

“It is a regular debate point among prisoners as to who the best criminal lawyers are. That, of course, is a matter of opinion, but the figures certainly reveal who the busiest firms are.”

Diarmid Bruce, director of Bruce the Lawyers, whose fees remained unchanged in 2017-18, said: “With all the new diversion schemes, it is inevitable that the number of prosecutions will be down significantly.

“It is becoming a difficult financial environment for many criminal legal aid lawyers.”