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Research Report: Data digest
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Overview


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.
  • 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.

Table 10:  Top five categories of Civil Law inquiries, by service
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 7.4Housing 7.8Housing 11
Credit/Debt5Wills/Estates6.4Government/Legal system10.3
Housing 3.2Credit/Debt 7.1Credit/Debt 6.7
Employment 2.7Employment 5.8Employment 6.4
Wills/Estates2.7Consumers 5.6Consumers 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.
  • 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.

Table 11:  Criminal Law inquiries, by service
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 crime17.6General crime68.3General crime9.8General crime7.2
Domestic violence2.4Domestic violence6.3Domestic violence3.1Domestic violence7.6
Traffic offences3.5Traffic offences12.3Traffic offences3.9Traffic offences2.4

Figure 4:  Percentage of inquiries in Family, Civil and Criminal Law, by service16








Trends in legal matters: Overview

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.
  • 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.

Figure 5:  Percentage of inquiries in Family, Civil and Criminal Law by year and service




Because of the high proportion of Criminal Law inquiries to the Legal Aid Duty Solicitor Service, general crime has been further broken down using a different coding system. See the analysis for the Duty Solicitor Service for more details.
Data provided for the Chamber Magistrate Service were divided into three categoriesfamily, domestic/personal violence, otherand could not be further broken down.
LawAccess NSW data were only available for the year 2002

15  Because of the high proportion of Criminal Law inquiries to the Legal Aid Duty Solicitor Service, general crime has been further broken down using a different coding system. See the analysis for the Duty Solicitor Service for more details.
16  Data provided for the Chamber Magistrate Service were divided into three categoriesfamily, domestic/personal violence, otherand could not be further broken down.
17  LawAccess NSW data were only available for the year 2002


CLOSE
Scott, S, Eyland, A , Gray, A, Zhou, A & Coumarelos, C 2004, Data digest, a compendium of services usage data from NSW legal assistance and dispute resolution services 1999-2002, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney, 2004