Note: the original hard copy of this report is 14 pages .

cover image

How people solve legal problems: level of disadvantage and legal capability, Justice issues paper 23   

, 2016 The paper provides compelling new evidence from the Legal Australia-Wide (LAW) Survey demonstrating the lower legal capability of multiply disadvantaged people. The most disadvantaged respondents were found to be significantly more likely to take no action in response to their legal problems. In addition, when they did take action, they were significantly less likely to use self-help resources, and significantly more likely to use not-for-profit legal services, than those less disadvantaged. Further, despite their greater use of not-for-profit legal services, the most disadvantaged group had significantly lower awareness of such services. Implications for policy and effective legal assistance services are discussed. The findings clearly signal the vital role of not-for-profit legal services in extending access to justice to the most disadvantaged members of the Australian community. In addition, given the high use of health or welfare advisers by the most disadvantaged group, the results also point to collaboration between these advisers and public legal services as a key strategy to enhance access to justice for the most disadvantaged.


Appendix: Statistical tables


Appendix Table 1: Parameter estimates for multilevel logistic regression on taking action (cf. inaction)



Appendix Table 2: Multinomial regression on highest-level legal problem-solving strategy (cf. act without professional information or advice)