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Top-earning Laois solicitors on Legal Aid system revealed as 2021 figures break €40 million nationally

Legal Aid fees Laois

A Laois solicitor took in almost €250,000 in Legal Aid fees in 2021, according to figures released in recent days by the Department of Justice.

Barry Fitzgerald, who has a practise on Main Street in Portlaoise, was paid €237,634.10 in 2021, making him the highest earner in Laois on the system and 41st in the country overall.

In all over €40 million was paid to almost 800 solicitors in the country, up from €34 million in 2020.

Fitzgerald’s figures are up from approximately €170,000 in 2020 and just over €154,000 in 2019.

The next highest-earning solicitor was Philip Meagher who took in €122,454.51 and Josephine Fitzptatrick who earned €110,689.63. Both are based in Portlaoise.

Other Laois solicitors included are Thomasina Connell who earned €24,631 on the scheme and Declan Breen (€7,647.47).

The figures show that John M Quinn – a solicitor based in Smithfield in Dublin – received the highest amount at €746,012. That is up considerably on the €460,000 he earned in 2020.

The only other two solicitors to receive in excess of €500,000 are Dublin based solicitor, Michael Hennessy, last year’s highest earner, who received €683,602 and Aonghus McCarthy who received €591,304.

Under the state-funded legal aid scheme, payments are made to practices which may have a number of solicitors participating in the criminal legal aid scheme.

Criminal legal aid is granted to people who can prove that they do not have enough money to pay for a solicitor or barrister to represent them in court.

Unlike civil legal aid, criminal legal aid is free and people do not have to make any financial contribution, as it is completely funded by the taxpayer.

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.