Guidance

Legal Aid Agency quality standards

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

Applies to England and Wales

Overview

If you hold a legal aid contract with LAA you must have the SQM 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).

Specialist Quality Mark

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

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

More information

LAA Specialist Quality Mark standard

LAA Specialist Quality Mark guidance

Changes to the Specialist Quality Mark from 1 October 2022

The LAA reviewed and updated the SQM Standard and SQM Guidance in September 2021. A summary of the main changes are set out in the document below alongside draft copies of the SQM Standard and SQM Guidance.

The revised requirements in the SQM will come into force on 1 October 2022. They will apply to all applications for a Desktop Audit and all requests for a Pre-Quality Mark Audit or a Post-Quality Mark Audit after this date

Summary of main changes to the Specialist Quality Mark from 1 October 2022

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Specialist Quality Mark guidance 1 October 2022

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Draft Specialist Quality Mark standard 1 October 2022

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Withdrawal of the Family Mediation Quality Mark

The Family Mediation Quality Mark has been withdrawn from 1 September 2018.

Providers holding a 2018 Standard Civil Contract in the mediation category of law will be required to meet the quality requirements set out in the 2018 Standard Civil Contract category specific rules for mediation. This document is available to download here:

Standard Civil Contract 2018

Updates

We publish updates about the Specialist Quality Mark standards in the LAA bulletin.

Published 2 July 2014
Last updated 27 January 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated content with details of revised requirements for the Specialist Quality Mark, which come into force on 1 October 2022.

  2. Changes to quality standards page following withdrawal of the family mediation quality mark

  3. SQM Standard and guidance updated.

  4. Information about changes to the SQM audit process from 1 April 2017 published.

  5. Updated documents added

  6. First published.