This paper explores the prevalence of non-legal services as the 'first port of call' for socially or economically disadvantaged people with legal problems. It looks at why disadvantaged people with legal problems seek help from non-legal services and explores how non-legal services respond to the legal needs of their clients. This bulletin also identifies challenges non-legal services face in assisting clients with legal problems and suggests strategies to facilitate non-legal services as effective pathways to legal assistance. It examines ways in which legal practitioners and services can support non-legal services in this role, in order to improve access to justice and legal assistance for disadvantaged people.
Information in this paper is drawn from the Law and Justice Foundation's Access to Justice and Legal Needs (A2JLN) research program. In a number of separate but related projects, the program has employed a mix of methodologies: quantitative, qualitative and analyses of service usage data to explore the legal needs and access to justice issues facing disadvantaged people in New South Wales (NSW). The specific reports referred to are available online under the A2JLN Program heading in Publications.