Measures and analyses
Level of disadvantage
Respondents’ level of disadvantage was measured using a count of the following nine indicators or types of disadvantage: disability, disadvantaged housing, Indigenous background, low education level, low income, non-English main language, living in a remote or outer regional area, single parenthood, and unemployment.3
Respondents were grouped according to the number of types of disadvantage they had: ‘none’, ‘1 or 2 types’ or ‘3 or more types’. In total there were 7218 respondents in the ‘none’ group (35% of all respondents), 10 612 respondents in the ‘1 or 2 types’ group (51%) and 2887 respondents with ‘3 or more types’ group (14%).
Legal problem-solving actions
This paper examines six types of action taken in response to legal problems4
Legal problem-solving strategy
- no action5
- act without professional information or advice6
- self-help resource7
- non-legal adviser8
- private lawyer9
- not-for-profit legal service.10
Sometimes more than one of the above actions was used in response to a legal problem. As a result, these actions were also used to define the highest-level legal problem-solving strategy used for each problem, that is, irrespective of whether or not any lower types of action were also used.11
The strategies were ranked from lowest to highest was: (1) ‘no action’, (2) ‘act without professional information or advice’, (3) ‘self-help resource’, (4) ‘non-legal adviser’, (5) ‘private lawyer,12
(6) ‘not-for-profit legal service’ (i.e. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services (ALS), a community legal centre (CLC), a court service, legal aid).13
This ranking reflects respondents’ problem-solving behaviour in terms of their agency in obtaining information and advice, and using private and public legal services (i.e. not-for-profit legal services). This order was purposefully chosen to identify all respondents who used a not-for-profit legal service to try to resolve their legal problems whether or not they also used private lawyers and other strategies.
Awareness of not-for-profit legal services
The LAW Survey measured both cued (i.e. prompted) and uncued awareness of not-for-profit legal services (Coumarelos et al. 2012). This paper employs the uncued awareness measure which asked respondents to name services that provide free legal information, advice or assistance without any prompting.14
Bivariate statistics were used to examine the relationship between level of disadvantage and (i) each of the six actions in response to legal problems, (ii) types of advisers used and (iii) awareness of not-for-profit legal services.15
Next, a multilevel binary logistic regression model was fitted to test the independent influence of level of disadvantage on taking action in response to legal problems.16
The dependent variable was whether or not respondents had taken any of the six types of actions. The other independent (or predictor) variables controlled for in the regression were gender, age, awareness of not-for-profit legal services, legal problem type classified, and problem severity (see Coumarelos et al. 2012). The influence of level of disadvantage and awareness of not-for-profit legal services on taking action was further examined by controlling for the interaction between these variables.17
The full set of predictors used in the regression on taking action is presented in Appendix Table 1.
Finally, a multilevel multinomial logistic regression model was fitted to test the independent influence of level of disadvantage on the highest-level legal problem-solving strategy, controlling for the same predictor variables as above, with the exception of the interaction between disadvantage and awareness of not-for-profit legal services.18 The full set of predictors used in the regression on highest-level legal problem-solving strategy is presented in Appendix Table 2.