Controversial changes to the legal aid system have been defended by the First Minister at Holyrood.
Alex Salmond said the proposals, contained in a Bill currently going through Parliament, would result in financial savings and help maintain access to justice in economically tough times.
Earlier this week, lawyers staged a protest in Edinburgh against the changes, saying people on low incomes will be hit hardest by the plans.
Advocates and defence solicitors highlighted their fears over the legislation, which would see people with a disposable income of £68 a week or more having to make a financial contribution towards criminal legal aid.
They also raised concerns about plans for solicitors to collect the cash, arguing that they may be left out of pocket if clients do not pay and it will harm the relationship between lawyer and client.
Mr Salmond was quizzed on the thinking behind the Scottish Government plans by Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald.
The First Minister told MSPs: "The purpose of the changes set out in the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill is to introduce contributions to solicitors' fees and criminal legal aid where the client can afford to pay such contributions.
"Doing so will ensure parity between the different types of legal aid and, by delivering savings, help maintain access to justice in what are economically very difficult times."
Opposition MSPs criticised the Scottish Government's plan when it was discussed at the SNP-dominated Justice Committee this week.
But they failed to secure the necessary votes to scrap aspects of the Bill, meaning it moves unchanged to the final stage of debate by the full Parliament.