Further Information and FAQs for member of the public

The following information for members of the public is available on this page:

If you are an advisor with an advice agency in Edinburgh, West Lothian, Midlothian or East Lothian, click here.

What is the CLAO Edinburgh service?

The Civil Legal Assistance Office in Edinburgh was set up by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to help address unmet legal need across Edinburgh, West Lothian, Midlothian and East Lothian. We will do what we can to help you find a lawyer or advice agency who can give you help with a civil law issue. Where a solicitor is required and we are unable to refer your case to a local solicitor, one of our solicitors may be able to take on the case. This is provided we have the capacity and the case is in one of our areas of capability and expertise.

There are two ways an individual can get help from the CLAO Edinburgh: through a local advice agency or by contacting us directly themselves.

We work with a number of advice/support agencies in Edinburgh, West Lothian, Midlothian and East Lothian including Citizens Advice Bureaux, local government Advice Shops, The Edinburgh Housing Advice Partnership and the Haddington, Edinburgh and West Lothian In-Court Advice Projects. We also work with support services such as Streetwork and Cyrenians. These agencies might be able to help you and, if you need a lawyer for your case, one of their advisors can contact CLAO Edinburgh and we can help by trying to find you a lawyer .

How do I know if I can use the CLAO Edinburgh service?

If you answer yes to the following questions, you can contact CLAO Edinburgh for help:

  • I live in Edinburgh, West Lothian, Midlothian or East Lothian
  • I have a civil legal problem (a legal problem that is not to do with the criminal law)
  • I have been told I need a lawyer or I am unsure whether or not I need a lawyer
  • I have tried unsuccessfully to find a lawyer or I don’t know how to find a lawyer 

What will happen when I contact CLAO Edinburgh? 

  •  You will have to give us your name and contact details as we do not deal with anonymous queries
  • You will be asked to provide us with financial information so that we can assess your legal aid eligibility
  • We will also ask you for a brief summary of what the issue is
  • If you appear to qualify for legal aid and have a legal issue, CLAO Edinburgh will try to refer you to a local solicitor

If you do not appear to qualify for legal aid or if the matter is not a legal issue CLAO Edinburgh may "signpost" you to contact details for local solicitors and agencies.

CLAO Edinburgh may consider representing you if it has not been possible to refer you to a local solicitor. This depends on the nature of the case, and if we have capability and capacity to take the case on.

What areas of work do CLAO Edinburgh undertake?

Our office deals with general civil legal issues, but our focus is on legal problems caused by the economic downturn including defending repossessions, mortgage and secured loan arrears, debt, defending evictions, homelessness, landlord and tenant disputes, employment, sequestration (bankruptcy) and benefits problems.

There are a few areas we don’t cover, such as accident and compensation claims, professional negligence claims, and disputes concerning land or buildings/construction work, and some specialised areas of civil law. However we can still refer these types of cases to solicitors in private practice.

For details on what is involved in using a solicitor click Using a Solicitor

How do I contact CLAO Edinburgh?

Members of the public can use telephone or email to contact us.

  • Our Telephone Number is 0131 2401960. Please call between the hours of 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm Monday to Friday. 
  • Our email address is

Please note that CLAO Edinburgh does not offer a drop in service. You will not be able to speak to a solicitor if you appear at the office. Please contact us by phone or email and we can assess what we can do to assist you.

Information about appointments with a CLAO Edinburgh solicitor

If we have advised you that we are considering taking on your case you might be offered an appointment with one of the CLAO Edinburgh solicitors. Our offices (see Contact Us) are up two  steep flights of stairs. If you are given an appointment at our office please let us know if you have any mobility problems and we will arrange to see you at an alternative location within Edinburgh. We try to be flexible about appointments so if you have any problems attending an appointment you can phone us as soon as possible to try and arrange an alternative. If you fail to attend an appointment without good reason or rearrange several times without good reason, then we may not be able to assist you any further.

If you are offered an ‘emergency’ appointment, it will be because your legal issue needs urgent action. If you miss an emergency appointment that may mean that it is then too late to do the legal work needed to resolve your problem and a new appointment may not be possible.

You should bring any legal paperwork which relates to your case to the appointment. When coming to a first appointment, you should also bring a form of photographic ID such as a driving licence or passport and proof of your address (i.e. bank statement, benefit award letter or utility bill dated within the last 3 months).

The rules of legal aid mean that we have to check your financial position at the first meeting. You must bring confirmation of any income and capital including any savings or investments. It is important that you bring the financial information as we may not be able to do any work for you until we have seen this. If you are not sure what to bring you can call the office first to check.