Why non-legal services are approached by people with legal problems
As indicated above, the A2JLN research suggests that some people seek assistance from services or advisers they are already in contact with. Such services may not necessarily be the source of advice most relevant to the issue nor be best equipped to deal with the legal issue. There are several reasons that people turn to these services, including that the service is familiar, it is known or trusted or that it is perceived to be accessible and approachable. In some cases people simply seek help from the service or worker who they are in contact with when a crisis hits or a problem arises. However people will also approach non-legal services to address the non-legal aspect of the problem they are facing (e.g. a doctor about an injury). The legal aspect of the issue (e.g. seeking victim's compensation for the injury) may remain unaddressed.7
Some people were also reported to turn to friends, family and non-legal services because they simply did not know where to go for legal assistance. For instance, some older people 'do not understand their rights, what legal avenues of redress are available to them, or the kinds of alternative assistance that are offered'.8
Thus, even when a non-legal service or an individual has no particular role or capacity to assist a client with their legal issue, they may remain the first 'port of call' for disadvantaged people facing legal problems.