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The Law Society Campaign to restore Legal Aid for Early Legal Advice

In 2015/16, Ipsos MORI conducted a study on individuals’ legal needs on behalf of the Law Society and the Legal Services
Board (LSB). The main component of the study was an online survey to examine individuals’ experiences of 29 legal issues and the effect of receiving early legal advice.

Large scale survey about the effect of early legal advice

The survey provided quantitative findings from 8,192 participants, which examined the responses from 16,694 issues

This included issues relating to

  • divorce/dissolution of civil partnerships
  • debt/money issues
  • injury at work
  • road traffic accidents
  • personal injury
  • legal issues with mental health issues
  • repossession or eviction
  • neighbour disputes
  • relationship breakdown issues
  • welfare benefits; discrimination
  • being arrested
  • legal issues related to children
  • immigration
  • domestic violence
  • homelessness
  • unfair treatment by the police

These are all issues which may be handled using legal processes but are not necessarily seen as being ‘legal’ in nature by those experiencing them.

early legal advice

The results of the analysis

This report outlines results from analysis comparing the effects on the timing of the resolution of individuals’ legal issues of receiving early professional legal advice compared to not receiving it.

The analysis showed that early advice has a statistically significant effect on the timing of the resolution of people’s legal issues.

Specifically, the analysis showed that for these issues:

  • On average, a quarter (25%) of people who received early professional legal advice had resolved their problem within 3-4 months of the problem first occurring, whereas for people who did not receive early legal advice it was not until 9 months after the issue had first occurred that 25% had resolved their issue.
  • Correspondingly, and controlling for other factors that can affect problem resolution, people who did not receive early advice were 20% less likely than average to have resolved their issue at a
    particular point in time.
  • The main other factors affecting problem resolution were the severity of the issues, and people’s previous knowledge of their legal rights. More severe problems, as would be expected, take longer on average to resolve, and people with little previous knowledge of their legal rights were 33% less likely than average to have resolved their issue at a particular point.
  • Early professional legal advice was defined as ‘within 3 months of the issue first occurring’ as analysis showed that this is a reasonable definition on average across the 17 issues considered.
  • Professional legal advice covered advice from a solicitor, or other professional advisers such as Citizen Advice Bureaux or
    trade unions.

As a result, the report stressed the importance of restoring the ability for individuals to seek early legal advice by receiving legal aid.  Advice and assistance in police interview remains free of charge to all.  Find out more about that here.

The Law Society is campaigning for the restoration of access to early legal advice under the legal aid scheme here.

The link to allow you to easily email your MP can be found here.

early legal advice

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