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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

6. Advice for legal problems



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Number of advisers


Respondents who sought advice in response to legal problems were asked to identify all of the advisers they had consulted in a formal or professional capacity in an attempt to resolve each problem. Respondents sometimes used more than one adviser in response to the same problem.

Figure 6.1 presents the number of advisers that respondents reported using in response to the 9783 problems where they sought advice. This total number summed not only the different types of advisers used but also the number of each type of adviser used.(2) For more than half (54.3%) of the legal problems where advice was sought, respondents reported using only one adviser. Two advisers were used in response to a further 21.8 per cent of the problems, and three or more advisers were used in the remaining 23.9 per cent of the problems. The 23.9 per cent of problems where three or more advisers were used include 4.9 per cent of problems where six or more advisers were consulted. When advice was sought in response to a legal problem, the average number of advisers used was 2.1, while the mode was 1.0.


Figure 6.1: Number of advisers per legal problem, Australia

Note: N=9783 problems where sought advice.

When respondents sought advice, there was a significant relationship between the number of advisers consulted and problem severity (see Figure 6.2). Significantly more advisers were consulted for problems of substantial impact than for problems of minor impact. For example, three or more advisers were consulted for 32.6 per cent of cases where advice was sought for a substantial problem but for only 12.3 per cent of cases where advice was sought for a minor problem.



Figure 6.2: Number of advisers by problem severity, Australia

Note: N=9783 problems where sought advice. Somers’ d=0.22 (95% CI=0.20–0.24), SE=0.01, p=0.000, outcome variable is number of advisers.

There was also a significant relationship between the number of advisers consulted and problem group (see Table 6.1). Compared to average, significantly more advisers were consulted for family, personal injury, employment and rights problems, and significantly fewer were consulted for accidents, consumer and housing problems.(3) This finding may in part reflect the relationship between the number of advisers and problem severity, given that, for instance, the family and employment problem groups tended to comprise relatively high proportions of substantial problems, while the accidents and consumer problem groups tended to comprise relatively low proportions of substantial problems (see Table 3.3).

Table 6.1: Number of advisers by problem group, Australia

Problem group
Number of advisers
Total
Mean
1
2
3+
%
%
%
%
N
Accidents
1.4
72.4
20.6
7.0
100.0
763
Consumer
1.6
69.6
15.8
14.6
100.0
986
Credit/debt
2.0
54.3
25.9
19.9
100.0
383
Crime
2.0
53.2
26.7
20.1
100.0
1 806
Employment
2.3
46.8
22.3
30.9
100.0
719
Family
3.0
35.9
19.9
44.2
100.0
855
Government
1.9
58.7
21.6
19.7
100.0
806
Health
2.2
52.3
24.1
23.6
100.0
347
Housing
1.8
62.6
19.4
18.0
100.0
1 070
Money
2.1
50.8
22.7
26.5
100.0
716
Personal injury
2.6
39.6
21.4
39.0
100.0
808
Rights
2.3
48.0
21.2
30.7
100.0
525
All problems where sought advice
2.1
54.3
21.8
23.9
100.0
9 783
Note: N=9783 problems where sought advice. A multilevel zero-truncated Poisson regression was conducted to determine whether problem group predicted the number of advisers consulted for legal problems. See Appendix Table A6.1 for full results.


2. For example, the LAW Survey recorded the number of each type of adviser used (e.g. two private lawyers, one ombudsman, three doctors, etc.). Up to four advisers of each type were recorded. Where respondents were unsure whether they had used a certain type of adviser, they were not credited with using that type of adviser. Where respondents reported using a certain type of adviser but did not say how many of that adviser type they had used, they were credited with using one of that adviser type (since the mode for each adviser type was 1.0 across Australia).

3. The number of advisers used for the other problem groups was not significantly different from average.

  


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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