Our mission, vision and strategic objectives

Our Mission

To help people access the legal support they need.

Our Vision

Our values, principles and clarity of purpose empower our people to deliver and shape a legal aid system that supports a just, safe and resilient Scotland.

Our Values
Transparency, Impartiality, Trust and Respect, Accountability, Proportionality, Responsiveness

Our values explained.

Our Principles
Our services are designed with our customers’ needs in mind. Our work is grounded in data and evidence. We take an inclusive ‘digital first’ approach to service design. We seek continuous improvement in all our work. We promote equality, diversity and sustainability in our work. We value our people and support them to deliver their best and fulfil their potential. We work collaboratively, both internally and externally.

Strategic Objectives

By fulfilling our mission and strategic objectives, both we and legal aid will better contribute to the achievement of Scottish Government aims, an efficient justice system and improved outcomes for those who need services supported by legal aid.
High Quality Administration. Our timely, clear and consistent decisions on legal aid applications and accounts deliver a positive customer experience.
High Quality Delivery of Client Legal Service and Targeted Funding. Our legal services deliver high quality and accessible information, advice and representation.
Investing in Our People. We support our people to develop the skills and ways of working needed to deliver our mission, both now and in the future.
Shaping the Future. Our insightful, evidence-based and outcome-focused advice to Ministers supports their decision making on the future of legal aid.

View more on our strategic objectives on our Corporate Plan page.

What our work involves

Our framework document

This governance and accountability framework document sets out the broad framework within which we operate and defines key roles and responsibilities which underpin the relationship between us and the Scottish Government.

File Type Size
Framework document 372 KB | 21 March 2019 PDF 372 KB

Role of the Board

Our work is overseen by a board, whose members are appointed by Scottish Ministers.

The Board’s main roles are to set our strategic direction and oversee our finances and performance.

The number of board members can vary between 11 and 15. To provide a balanced range of knowledge and experience, they include people from the wider community as well as solicitors and advocates.

Board committees

Board committee structure and membership

Read about the committees of the Board and their membership.

Standing orders

Our standing orders set out how the business of the Board and its committees operate.

File Type Size
Board Standing Orders 200 KB | 12 March 2024 PDF 200 KB

How the Scottish legal aid system works

Ministers in the Scottish Government:

  • Decide legal aid policy.
  • Set the rules for legal aid.
  • Decide the fees to be paid to the legal profession.

The Scottish Parliament makes and changes legislation – including the tests for granting legal assistance. These tests are then applied to every single case.

In advice and assistance solicitors apply the tests.

For civil, criminal and children’s legal aid, we apply the tests.

The budget for the Legal Aid Fund is different from many other public services: it is not a capped amount.

Since the Legal Aid Fund is uncapped this means we never have to refuse someone legal aid because there is no money left to pay for their case.

Legal assistance is available from private practice solicitors, law centres and solicitors employed by us in the Public Defence Solicitors’ Office for criminal cases and in the Civil Legal Assistance Office for civil cases.

Private practice solicitors are paid on a case by case basis from the Legal Aid Fund. Employed solicitors are paid a salary as our employees.