Northern Ireland's top lawyers net £15m in legal aid
Northern Ireland's leading lawyers earned over £15m from legal aid payments in the last financial year.
An unidentified barrister netted £716,925 in counsel fees in 2007/08.
Kevin Winters and Co solicitors was paid almost £1.5 million and headed the list of solicitors' companies for the second year in a row.
Jim Daniell, chairman of the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission, said: "The amounts paid to each barrister and solicitor's practice listed may represent payments for work covering a number of years and for a variety of cases. It is therefore important to bear in mind that the amounts received year-on-year can fluctuate widely."
Barry MacDonald and Orlando Pownall were among other high earning lawyers.
Barristers are self-employed and pay taxes on that income. Some of the legal aid may be refunded if a case involving the legally aided barrister is lost by a private individual or business which subsequently has to pay costs.
The Commission may make payments several years after a case is concluded.