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Research Report: NSW Legal Needs Survey: Fairfield, Justice issues paper 5
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NSW Legal Needs Survey: Fairfield, Justice issues paper 5  ( 2008 )  Cite this report

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Expressed legal need in Fairfield

The Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales collects data annually from a number of legal service providers, to provide an indication of the level of expressed legal need in New South Wales. 'Expressed legal need' refers to those legal needs which are 'expressed' through accessing a legal service, by requesting information or advice, seeking a legal referral or gaining legal representation. The number of inquiries for the 12 months to September 2003 (the period covered in the survey) for LawAccess13 and three different service types provided by Legal Aid in the Fairfield LGA are shown in Table 4.

Table 4 shows that most of the inquiries to LawAccess from the Fairfield area concerned civil issues, but for Legal Aid, the distribution of inquiries across broad area of law differed according to the type of service provided.

Table 4: Inquiries to LawAccess and Legal Aid services by broad area of law,
Fairfield, October 2002 to September 2003
Legal Aid
– advice
– info/referral
– duty solicitor

For example, the overwhelming majority of duty solicitor services, as one might expect, come under criminal law, because duty solicitor services are most commonly provided for criminal matters. Similarly, most inquiries to the Advice Service concerned criminal law, while inquiries to the Information and Referral Service are more evenly spread among civil, criminal and family law areas. However, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding the distribution across services as there is no information regarding the independence of inquiries to each service in these data. For example, a person may approach a service a number of times in relation to the same issue, or may make inquiries that fall under different areas of law in relation to a complex issue. Further, people may seek assistance from other legal services, such as private lawyers or community legal centres.

Inquiry data can, however, provide a broad-brush picture of the level of legal service usage in an area. In the Fairfield LGA, there was less than 5 per cent rate of use of these services for the population size (approximately 8500 service events for a population around 188 300 people). The survey results will help clarify the picture of legal need in the area by giving an indication of not only expressed legal need, but also unexpressed legal need where no assistance is obtained.

LawAccess is a free telephone information advice service that operates under the auspices of the NSW Attorney General`s Department.

13  LawAccess is a free telephone information advice service that operates under the auspices of the NSW Attorney General`s Department.

Grunseit, A,, Iriana, R, Coumarelos, C & Wei, Z 2008, NSW Legal Needs Survey in disadvantaged areas: Fairfield, Justice issues paper 5, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney