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Research Report: Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia
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Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia  ( 2012 )  Cite this report

8. Outcome of legal problems

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Outcome of legal problems: Australian summary

Australian respondents achieved favourable outcomes for the majority of their finalised legal problems (66.6%). Not surprisingly, there was an extremely strong significant relationship between the favourability of the outcomes achieved and how satisfied respondents were with these outcomes.

A series of analyses examined the problem characteristics, strategies and demographic groups that were associated with achieving favourable outcomes for legal problems. Regression analysis revealed that, of the variables examined, problem group was the strongest predictor of whether the outcomes of legal problems were favourable. Strategy was the second strongest predictor in the regression. However, most demographic characteristics were unrelated to whether favourable outcomes were achieved. The only significant demographic predictors were age, employment status and remoteness of residential area, and their effects were relatively weak. Legal problems had lower odds of favourable outcomes if:
    • they were credit/debt, crime, employment, government, health or rights problems
    • the respondent took no action in response to the problem, neither seeking advice nor handling the problem without advice
    • the respondent was aged 65 years or over (versus 15–17 year olds)
    • the respondent had been unemployed
    • the respondent lived in a major city area (versus a regional area).

Other types of statistical analyses revealed that achieving a favourable outcome for a legal problem was also significantly associated with the severity of the problem, the number of adverse consequences resulting from the problem, the manner in which the problem was finalised and the total number of legal problems experienced by the respondent. In particular, lower levels of favourable outcomes were achieved:
    • for substantial problems (62.2%) than for minor problems (69.4%)
    • as the number of adverse consequences caused by problems increased
    • for problems that were finalised by the respondent deciding not to pursue the matter further (31.6%) than for all problems on average (66.6%)
    • as the number of legal problems experienced by the respondent increased.

The LAW Survey results for Australia on the outcomes of legal problems are interpreted further in Chapters 9 and 10. These chapters compare the Australian results to the LAW Survey results for other jurisdictions and to international findings.


Coumarelos, C, Macourt, D, People, J, MacDonald, HM, Wei, Z, Iriana, R & Ramsey, S 2012, Legal Australia-Wide Survey: legal need in Australia, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney