Legal Aid Agency quality standards

Legal aid providers: find out how the LAA sets quality assurance standards and make sure you qualify.


If you hold a legal aid contract with LAA you must have the SQM or MQM standard or the Lexcel Practice Management standard (Lexcel), owned by the Law Society.

The LAA owns the quality assurance standards known as Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) and Mediation Quality Mark (MQM).

Specialist Quality Mark

The Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) is a quality assurance standard designed for organisations who:

  • supply complex legal help
  • offer a full range of legal services, including representation in court (where necessary and permitted) by formally trained professionals

Delivering the audit Services of the SQM Standard

As of the 1 April 2017, Recognising Excellence Ltd took over the administration of the audit delivery services of the SQM Standard from its predecessor the SQM Delivery Partnership.

Recognising Excellence Ltd is responsible for undertaking:

  • any audits booked on/after 1 April 2017 required for future contracts with LAA
  • audits needed to retain an existing LAA contract on/after 1 April 2017

To book an SQM audit or for general queries relating to the SQM Standard, please contact

Please note that Recognising Excellence Ltd will charge to carry out an audit.

Amendments to the SQM audit process

A small number of changes have been made to the audit process for the SQM quality standard and all audits after 1 April 2017 will follow this process.

The headline changes to the content of the Award process are:

  • a reduction in stages of the audit award process;
  • an increase in requirements at the Pre-QM stage.

Further details can be found in Changes to the SQM audit process from 1 April 2017 (PDF, 384KB, 2 pages) .

More information

LAA Specialist Quality Mark standard

Family Mediation Quality Mark

Organisations providing public mediation services under legal aid must hold the Family Mediation Quality Mark (MQM).

To apply for the MQM you need to complete the:

Send these and other required documents to:

More information

LAA Mediation Quality Mark standard

LAA Mediation Quality Mark guidance

Contact and updates


We publish updates about the standards in the LAA bulletin.

Published 2 July 2014
Last updated 1 April 2017 + show all updates
  1. SQM Standard and guidance updated.
  2. Information about changes to the SQM audit process from 1 April 2017 published.
  3. Updated documents added
  4. First published.