The following information for advisors and advice agencies is available on this page. We are happy to deal with any further queries if you contact us.

If you are a member of the public residing in Highland, Moray, Westerns Isles, Orkney and Shetland click here.

What agencies can use CLAO Highland & Islands(“CLAO”) services?

Our services are potentially available to any third sector advice or support agency located in Highland, Moray, Westerns Isles, Orkney and Shetland involved in assisting the public on any of a wide range of matters, where civil legal issues arise and/or the client may need advice and representation from a solicitor. The nature and level of assistance we can give depends on the agency and the subject matter arising.

We work with a wide range of agencies, but before we start to provide any assistance we do require to establish with an agency what, if any, level and forms of assistance we can provide. That assistance will differ from one agency to another. Once that is established through your agency/service manager, we can then assist in accordance with that arrangement on an on-going basis. Your agency/service manager will be able to let you know whether your agency has arrangements with us. If your agency does not have an arrangement with CLAO your service manager should contact us as we can link your agency up to our services through one phone call. We currently work with a range of agencies including Citizens Advice Bureaux and Advocacy agencies.

What Services Can CLAO Provide?

 ADVICE ON LEGAL ISSUES - we call this “second tier advice”

CLAO solicitor gives advisor information and guidance on legal issues and on-going support so that the advisor can resolve the matter themselves without the client needing a solicitor. (Please note that this service is only available to certain agency/advice providers. To ascertain whether your agency can access this particular service, please contact CLAO).


CLAO solicitors provide information and analysis of relevant legal issues, important developments in relevant areas of law and answers to ‘frequently asked questions’. (Please note that this service is only available to certain agency/advice providers. To ascertain whether your agency can access this particular service, please contact CLAO).


CLAO will make referrals to local firms of solicitors on your client’s behalf to attempt to place their case with a local firm of legal aid solicitors.


Where a local legal aid lawyer cannot take the case or the case is extremely urgent (i.e with an imminent court/eviction date), CLAO solicitor will determine whether CLAO can directly case work the matter. We can help with a wide range of civil legal issues but we focus on family and child law, mental health law, mortgage repossessions, debt, tenancy evictions, homelessness and housing problems and money problems, and we have considerable experience dealing with clients with vulnerabilities or support needs.


CLAO solicitors provide training on legal issues that is tailored to non-legally qualified advisors and representatives and enables them to deal with legal issues that arise in their own cases.

Advisors can contact CLAO at any stage. Wherever possible, however, advisors should contact as soon as an issue arises. The earlier contact is made, the more likely it is that we can successfully intervene or assist to help the client.  In some rare cases, the client contacts too late and there may simply not be time for the necessary legal work to be done before the legal deadline. Even here however, advisors are encouraged to contact CLAO for advice and confirmation that there are no further steps that may be taken.

How Do I Contact CLAO?

See Contact Us. Depending on your organisation's specific arrangements with CLAO, you may have access to a dedicated email address, to allow us to appropriately assign enquiries. If you work with such an organisation, even if you telephone the office, you may be asked to contact us in accordance with the specific arrangements for your organisation.  If you do not yet have specific arrangments, you can contact us by telephone or our general email address and we will consider whether we can assist. Our telephones are manned 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, with our office open at the same times. The phone will not be answered outwith office hours. An answering machine is available to take messages and we will try to get back to you as soon as possible. If the matter is urgent then please confirm this at the outset so that work can be prioritised accordingly.  Advisors should note it will not always be possible to obtain an immediate answer to an enquiry.

What Legal Issues Can CLAO Help With?

You can contact us about any Scottish civil legal matter as long as long your client lives in Highland, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney or Shetland. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to deal with all enquiries and there are areas of law beyond our knowledge and experience, but we should be able to help with most issues especially under the general heading of social welfare law topics.

If the matter is outwith our expertise we will use CLAO resources to provide guidance and/or direct you to an expert local lawyer who may be able to assist.

We may also be able to assist by referring the client to another solicitor who undertakes the particular type of work. 

How Do I Work Out If My Client Is Eligible For Legal Aid?

Bear in mind that in most cases, most clients will be eligible for some form of legal aid.

Please see Are You Eligible for more information. To discuss things in more detail, you can contact us, or the Scottish Legal Aid Board on 0131 226 7061 or .

What Information Do I Have To Provide When I Call To Refer A Case?

Advisors must be able to provide the following information. All data is held by us in accordance with the legal requirements. We are not able to provide assistance on an anonymous basis.

In second-tier enquiries (only):

  • Advisor’s name and contact details and availability
  • Advisor’s consent to us holding advisor information
  • Identify if it is an urgent matter
  • All court dates/deadlines in relation to the legal issue

 For an enquiry where the client is or may be referred to us, in addition we require:

  • The client’s name and contact details
  • You to confirm you hold client’s consent to us holding client information (until such time as we or another service provider gets that consent direct)

It is helpful if you can also provide details of client’s household income and financial position but this is not essential as we will speak directly to your client.

 What happens When My Client is Given a CLAO Appointment

If the case is not urgent, we will send an appointment letter to the client.  If the client misses the appointment and does not arrange another, we do not as a matter of course notify the referring agency.   If you wish to follow up on whether the client has attended, you will need to check with us.

In most cases referred by an advisor or support worker, where the advisor or support worker is doing ongoing work with the client,  we continue to feedback, update and work with the person who has referred the case.

If the case is urgent, and we have liaised with you in making an appointment for the client, you can assist us by providing any appropriate help to the client so that they are able to attend, and we may ask you to pass details of further information we will require of the client, so that they are fully prepared for the appointment, and that time can be spent effectively in dealing with the urgent matter. 

Urgent Advice

Where an advisor considers that advice is genuinely required as a matter of urgency, it is important that that is made clear in their email.  Our administration staff will prioritise enquiries on a first-come, first-serve basis, except where it is identified as urgent.  In most cases, a CLAO solicitor will consider the email on the same day, and if a full, immediate response is not feasible, contact the advisor as soon as is practical to enable a detailed discussion of the issues and fix the appropriate timescale for a response.

Urgent requests and the work arising from them can only be dealt with within office hours as detailed above. There may be occasions when emails received after 4pm, even if urgent, may not be attended to by a solicitor until the following working day. Advisors also are asked to note that CLAO can only take on urgent work where the service has capacity to do so.

Advisors should note that we do not have a drop-in facility, even for urgent issues. A client who is to be referred to us, even as a matter of urgency, should not be directed to attend our office unless it is to an appointment which has already been scheduled. The best route is always to email us first. Contact Us