The pattern of inquiries across the broad areas of law—Family, Criminal and Civil—differed across services, although some similarities did emerge. Figure 4 shows the breakdown for each service.
Table 10: Top five categories of Civil Law inquiries, by service
- More than half of the inquiries to NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist) (51%) and Law Access NSW (56%) were in the area of Civil Law. For those services, Family Law inquiries were the next most frequent, being almost twice as frequent as inquiries about Criminal Law.
- More than three quarters of inquiries to the Legal Aid NSW Information /Advice Service were evenly divided between Civil and Family Law, with the remaining quarter relating to Criminal Law.
- The majority of inquiries to the Legal Aid NSW Duty Solicitor Service related to Criminal Law (87%). The difference between the two Legal Aid services reflects the different service environments. The Duty Solicitor Service deals with users of the Local Courts whereas the Information/Advice Service deals with inquiries from across the community.
- Data for inquiries to the Chamber Magistrate Service were in pre-defined categories—family, domestic violence and other. It is therefore difficult to compare the data with other services. Family Law accounted for 19 per cent of inquiries.
- As shown in Table 10, a pattern emerged for Civil Law inquiries to the Legal Aid NSW Information/Advice Service, LawAccess NSW and NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist). Housing, credit/debt, and employment were among the five most frequent types of Civil Law inquiry in all three services, and government/legal system, consumers and wills/estates were in the five most frequent areas in two of the three services analysed.
|Legal Aid NSW Info/Advice 2000-2002||% of total ||LawAccess NSW 2002||% of total ||NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist) 1999-2002||% of total
|Government/Legal system ||7.4||Housing ||7.8||Housing ||11
|Housing ||3.2||Credit/Debt ||7.1||Credit/Debt ||6.7
|Employment ||2.7||Employment ||5.8||Employment ||6.4
|Wills/Estates||2.7||Consumers ||5.6||Consumers ||4.1
Note: The Legal Aid NSW Duty Solicitor Service was not included as the proportion of Civil Law inquiries was too small for analysis.
Table 11: Criminal Law inquiries, by service
- Criminal Law inquiries were classified as general, domestic violence and traffic offences.15 Table 11 shows the percentage of total inquiries for these three areas of law for each service with available data.
Figure 4: Percentage of inquiries in Family, Civil and Criminal Law, by service16
Trends in legal matters: Overview
|Legal Aid NSW Info/Advice 2000-2002||% of total ||Legal Aid NSW Duty Solicitor 2000-2002||% of total ||LawAccess NSW||% of total ||NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist) 1999-2002||% of total
|General crime||17.6||General crime||68.3||General crime||9.8||General crime||7.2
|Domestic violence||2.4||Domestic violence||6.3||Domestic violence||3.1||Domestic violence||7.6
|Traffic offences||3.5||Traffic offences||12.3||Traffic offences||3.9||Traffic offences||2.4
Figure 5 provides an overview of changes in the type of legal matter inquired about by service users of the four services over the years of measurement.17
Trends in the legal matter inquired about depended on the service.
Figure 5: Percentage of inquiries in Family, Civil and Criminal Law by year and service
- The percentage of Family Law inquiries to the Legal Aid NSW Information/Advice Service and to NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist) decreased. There was no significant change for the Duty Solicitor Service. The percentage of Family Law inquiries to Chamber Magistrates increased.
- The percentage of inquiries about Criminal Law decreased for the NSW Duty Solicitor Service and NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist), and increased for the Legal Aid NSW Information/Advice Service. The percentage of domestic violence inquiries to Chamber Magistrates increased.
- The percentage of Civil Law inquiries to the Legal Aid NSW Duty Solicitor Service and NSW Community Legal Centres (Generalist) increased, and decreased for the Legal Aid NSW Information/Advice Service.