A female advocate received more than £500,000 in legal aid fees last year – the first time a woman has been Scotland’s highest earner.
Mhairi Richards QC was paid £505,000 in legal assistance fees over the course of 2016/17, ahead of Gordon Jackson QC who collected £364,000, and Donald Findlay QC who earned £362,000.
The total cost to the taxpayer of providing legal assistance in Scotland amounted to £135.7 million in 2016/17, down from £137.8 million the previous year.
The figures were issued by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) as it published its annual report showing activity in the last financial year.
SLAB chief executive Colin Lancaster said: “2016/17 has been a year of good performance for the organisation during a continued period of organisational change and a complex external environment.
“We developed a new three-year corporate plan, which takes us up to March 2020. As part of this process, our board agreed new strategic objectives for the organisation.
“The plan focuses on operational excellence, with a vision that we will transform the administration of legal aid.”
He added: “Although a significant focus of the corporate plan is on our internal operations and culture, everything that we do in pursuance of it will also aim to deliver positive outcomes for those seeking, accessing, and delivering legal aid.”