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Research Report: Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas
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Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas  ( 2006 )  Cite this report

Ch 5. Seeking help for legal events



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Type of assistance


Participants were asked in a closed-ended question whether they obtained written information from any of the advisers they used in relation to a given legal event. Written information was obtained in response to 416 or 27.8 per cent of the 1496 legal events where participants sought help. Written information included information from books or leaflets (10.6% of events), websites (6.1%) and do-it-yourself kits (1.2%).

In addition, participants were also asked in an open-ended question to identify all the different types of help they received from their sole or most useful adviser.8 The type of help received was provided for only 1272 of the events where help was sought. Figure 5.3 presents a summary of whether the type of help was of a legal or non-legal nature. More than one type of help was sometimes received for the same event. For 8.5 per cent of these events, participants reported that their adviser did not actually provide any useful help. For 38.2 per cent of these events, respondents did not specify whether or not the help was of a legal or non-legal nature. However, for at least 323 (25.4%) of these events, the help received included information, advice or assistance that was of a legal nature.9 In the remaining 27.9 per cent of events, only non-legal information, advice or assistance was received.10 Thus, in a considerable proportion of cases where participants sought help for events that had legal consequences, they only received non-legal help. This finding is not surprising given the earlier reported finding that in the majority of cases where help was sought, only a non-legal adviser was consulted.

Figure 5.3: Legal versus non-legal help from sole or most useful adviser, all six LGAs, 2003


a Legal help includes two events where legal help was received together with non-legal help and 10 events where legal help was received together with an unspecified form of help.
b Non-legal help includes three events where non-legal help was received together with an unspecified form of help.
Notes: N=1272 events. Type of help was missing for 224 events where help was sought.

Table 5.4: Ten most frequently used advisers by legal event group, all six LGAs, 2003
Legal Event Group
% of events of each type where help sought
No. of events
LEGAL ADVISER
NON-LEGAL ADVISER
Traditional legal:
Lawyer friend/ relative
Published:
Other friend/ relative
Government:
Police/complaint handling:
Other:
Private solicitor/barrister
Internet
Government organisation
Police
Other professionala
School/school counsellor/
teacher
Insurance company/
broker
Trade union/professional body
Civil
Accident/injury
2.9
2.5
3.3
7.9
3.8
9.2
53.6
0.4
24.7
2.9
239
Business
8.5
6.8
6.8
13.6
18.6
3.4
27.1
1.7
3.4
3.4
59
Consumer
8.1
8.7
9.3
19.9
9.9
0.6
14.9
0
13
1.9
161
Credit/debt
0
18.2
9.1
9.1
36.4
0
18.2
0
9.1
0
11
Education
1.3
1.3
5.3
10.5
6.6
2.6
11.8
82.9
0
0
76
Employment
6.5
6.5
12.5
14.9
11.9
0
10.1
3
0
40.5
168
Government
3.9
5.6
6.1
15.1
41.3
0.6
22.3
1.7
0.6
2.2
179
Health
0
4.5
9.1
15.9
15.9
0
54.5
0
0
6.8
44
Housing
5
8.4
10.1
23.5
15.1
9.2
7.6
0
0.8
3.4
119
Human rights
12.5
4.2
4.2
12.5
16.7
8.3
16.7
16.7
0
0
24
Wills/estates
33.5
15.4
7.1
14.8
4.9
0
25.3
0
1.1
0.5
182
Criminal
Domestic violence
2.9
2.9
5.9
23.5
26.5
23.5
26.5
5.9
0
2.9
34
General crime
6.3
5.2
2.1
17.7
18.8
27.1
20.8
6.3
1
2.1
96
Traffic offences
33.3
0
0
16.7
0
0
33.3
0
0
0
6
Family
20.4
10.8
12.9
21.5
24.7
2.2
17.2
0
0
0
93
a Includes doctor, accountant, psychologist, counsellor, etc.
Notes: N=1491 events. Four unclassified events were excluded, and information on type of adviser was missing for one event where help was sought. Multiple advisers were sometimes used for the same event. A significance test was not conducted.

Table 5.5 details the types of legal and non-legal information, advice and assistance that participants reported receiving from their sole or most useful adviser. The most frequent type of legal help received from the sole or most useful adviser was specific legal advice, which was received in response to 20.0 per cent of events where help was sought.11 Other types of legal help included assistance with legal paperwork such as legal documents or letters (2.2%), general information about the law or legal rights (1.7%) and legal representation in court or tribunal proceedings (1.3%).12 The most frequent types of non-legal help included medical advice, assistance or referral (8.9%), financial or insurance advice or assistance (4.4%), and non-legal counselling or support (4.2%).13

Table 5.5: Type of help from sole or most useful adviser, all six LGAs, 2003

Type of help
Events where help sought
No.
%
No help received
108
8.5
Legal
Specific legal advice
254
20
Information re legal services
4
0.3
General information re law/legal rights
22
1.7
Legal representation in court/tribunal
16
1.3
Legal paperwork
28
2.2
Other legala
28
2.2
Non-legal
Medical advice/assistance
113
8.9
Financial/insurance advice/assistance
56
4.4
Information re non-legal services
7
0.6
General non-legal information
15
1.2
Non-legal counselling/supportb
54
4.2
Non-legal paperwork
3
0.2
Other non-legalc
112
8.8
Legal versus non-legal not specified
Specific advice
325
25.6
Information re services
2
0.2
General informationd
110
8.6
Paperwork
29
2.3
Other
85
6.7
a e.g. initial legal assistance such as legal advocacy, negotiation or mediation; legal settlement; law reform.
b e.g. psychological counselling; moral support; housing/financial support.
c e.g. non-legal advice on other issues (e.g. council, employment, engineering, real estate); non-legal advocacy.
d e.g. information published via the internet, books, pamphlets.
Notes: N=1272 events. Information on type of help was missing for 224 events where help was sought. Multiple types of help were sometimes obtained from the sole or most useful adviser.

Table 5.6 breaks down the type of help received from the sole or most useful adviser according to the type of adviser used. Not surprisingly, the descriptive statistics suggest that the type of help received appeared to depend on the type of adviser consulted, with legal advisers tending to provide legal forms of help more often than non-legal advisers.14 Legal advisers provided some form of legal help in at least three-fifths of events, with traditional legal advisers (i.e. private lawyers, local courts, legal service agencies) providing legal help in over four-fifths of cases. In comparison, non-legal advisers (i.e. non-lawyer friends and family, government sources, police, complaint handling bodies and other advisers) may have provided legal information, advice or assistance in no more than 14.8 per cent of cases.15 Advice or assistance of a medical, financial or insurance nature tended to be provided more frequently by non-legal rather than legal advisers.16 One of the main uses of published sources was to obtain general information, either of a legal or non-legal nature.

Table 5.7 (a and b) breaks down the types of help received from the sole or most useful adviser by legal event group. Table 5.7a provides this breakdown for civil legal event groups while Table 5.7b provides the breakdown for criminal and family legal event groups. The descriptive data suggest that type of help appeared to depend on the type of legal event.17 For example, as would be expected, medical advice or assistance tended to be most commonly received for accident/injury (47.8%) and health events (31.4%) rather than other types of events. Specific legal advice was received in over one-third of family (34.2%) and wills/estates (52.3%) events, but in less than 10 per cent of accident/injury, education, government and health events. Non-legal counselling or support was received most commonly for domestic violence events (40.7%).

Table 5.6: Type of help from sole or most useful adviser by type of adviser, all six LGAs, 2003

Type of help
% of events where adviser used
Traditional legale
Lawyer friend/ relative
Publishedf
LEGAL
ADVISERg
Other friend/ relative
Governmenth
Police/ complaint handing
Otheri
NON-LEGAL
ADVISERj
No help received
6.9
6.3
1.6
5.5
4.9
14.1
17.1
8.1
9.3
Legal
85.4
52.5
34.9
64.1
16.4
15
14.3
14.5
14.8
Specific legal advice
70.8
43.8
17.5
50.5
13.1
11.7
11.4
11.3
11.6
Information re legal services
0.8
1.3
1.6
1.1
0
0
0
0.2
0.1
General information re law/legal rights
2.3
3.8
17.5
6.2
1.6
0.5
0
0.3
0.5
Legal representation in court/tribunal
5.4
1.3
0
2.9
0
0
0
1.3
0.8
Legal paperwork
6.9
6.3
0
5.1
0.8
0
0
2.1
1.4
Other legala
6.9
2.5
0
4
0.8
2.8
2.9
1.4
1.7
Non-legal
3.1
6.3
9.5
5.5
28.7
22.1
14.3
40.2
34
Medical advice/assistance
0
1.3
1.6
0.7
0
1.4
2.9
17
11.1
Financial/insurance advice/assistance
0.8
2.5
1.6
1.5
4.1
4.7
5.7
5.6
5.2
Information re non-legal services
0
0
0
0
0
1.4
0
0.6
0.7
General non-legal information
0
0
6.3
1.5
2.5
0.9
2.9
0.8
1.1
Non-legal counselling/supportb
0
1.3
1.6
0.7
10.7
2.8
0
5.2
5.2
Non-legal paperwork
0.8
0
0
0.4
0
0.5
0
0.2
0.2
Other non-legalc
1.5
1.3
0
1.1
11.5
10.3
2.9
11.4
10.9
Legal versus non-legal not specified
4.6
35
54
24.9
50
48.8
54.3
37.2
41.8
Specific advice
0
26.3
20.6
12.5
33.6
33.3
42.9
26.1
29.1
Information re services
0
0
1.6
0.4
0
0.5
0
0
0.1
General informationd
5.4
6.3
39.7
13.6
6.6
8.9
8.6
6.8
7.3
Paperwork
5.4
2.5
0
3.3
0.8
2.8
0
2.1
2
Other
0
3.8
3.2
1.8
10.7
8.5
5.7
7.5
8
No. of events
130
80
63
273
122
213
35
629
999
a e.g. initial legal assistance such as legal advocacy, negotiation or mediation; legal settlement; law reform.
b e.g. psychological counselling; moral support; housing/financial support.
c e.g. non-legal advice on other issues (e.g. council, employment, engineering, real estate); non-legal advocacy.
d e.g. information published via the internet, books, pamphlets.
e Includes private solicitor/barrister, local court, Legal Aid NSW, LawAccess NSW, Aboriginal legal services and CLCs.
f Includes the internet and self-help source.
g Includes the categories of traditional legal adviser, lawyer friend/relative and published source.
h Includes government organisation, local council and member of parliament.
i Includes other professional, school/school counsellor/teacher, non-legal community group, private agency/organisation, company/business/bank, insurance company/broker, trade union/professional body, library, employer and other tribunal.
j Includes the categories of other (non-lawyer) friend/relative, government source, police/complaint handling body and other adviser.

Notes: N=1272. Type of help was missing for 224 events where help was sought. Multiple types of help were sometimes obtained from the sole or most useful adviser. A significance test was not conducted.

Table 5.7a: Type of help from sole or most useful adviser by each civil legal event group, all six LGAs, 2003
Type of help
% of events of each type where help sought
Accident/injury
Business
Consumer
Education
Employment
Government
Health
Housing
Wills/estates
No help received
5
5.7
16.7
10.6
6.8
12.4
5.7
7.3
2.6
Legal
8.3
39.6
22.9
4.5
20.9
10.6
5.7
25.5
62.9
Specific legal advice
6.7
28.3
19.4
4.5
17.6
8.7
0
18.2
52.3
Information re legal services
0
0
0
0
0
0.6
0
0.9
0
General information re law/legal rights
0.6
1.9
1.4
0
2
1.2
2.9
3.6
2.6
Legal representation in court/tribunal
1.1
1.9
0.7
0
0
0
0
0
0.7
Legal paperwork
0
5.7
0.7
0
0
0.6
0
3.6
12.6
Other legala
0
7.5
2.8
0
1.4
0
2.9
3.6
3.3
Non-legal
62.2
13.2
23.6
40.9
22.3
27.3
45.7
23.6
4.6
Medical advice/assistance
47.8
0
0
1.5
2.7
2.5
31.4
0
0
Financial/insurance advice/assistance
6.1
7.5
11.8
0
3.4
8.1
0
0
1.3
Information re non-legal services
0
0
0
0
2
0.6
0
0.9
0
General non-legal information
0
0
0.7
1.5
2.7
1.2
5.7
3.6
0
Non-legal counselling/supportb
0.6
0
0.7
12.1
3.4
1.2
5.7
4.5
1.3
Non-legal paperwork
0
0
0
0
0.7
1.2
0
0
0
Other non-legalc
7.8
5.7
10.4
25.8
8.1
12.4
8.6
14.5
2
Legal versus non-legal not specified
24.4
41.5
36.8
43.9
50
49.7
42.9
43.6
29.8
Specific advice
17.2
32.1
26.4
30.3
32.4
32.9
28.6
29.1
17.2
Information re services
0
0
0
0
0
0.6
0
0.9
0
General informationd
3.9
15.1
7.6
4.5
12.8
12.4
11.4
10.9
7.9
Paperwork
1.1
5.7
3.5
0
0.7
3.1
0
1.8
5.3
Other
4.4
0
6.3
12.1
10.1
8.7
8.6
5.5
4
No. of events
180
53
144
66
148
161
35
110
151
a e.g. initial legal assistance such as legal advocacy, negotiation or mediation; legal settlement; law reform.
b e.g. psychological counselling; moral support; housing/financial support.
c e.g. non-legal advice on other issues (e.g. council, employment, engineering, real estate); non-legal advocacy.
d e.g. information published via the internet, books, pamphlets.

Notes: N=1233 for Tables 5.7a and 5.7b. Type of help was missing for 224 events where help was sought. Four unclassified events were excluded. Credit/debt (n=11), human rights (n=18) and traffic offence (n=6) events were excluded because there were insufficient numbers for reliable results. Multiple types of help were sometimes obtained from the sole or most useful adviser. A significance test was not conducted.

Table 5.7b: Type of help from sole or most useful adviser by each criminal and family legal event group, all six LGAs, 2003

Type of help
% of events of each type where help sought
Domestic violence
General crime
Family
No help received
0
12.7
8.9
Legal
14.8
32.9
44.3
Specific legal advice
14.8
21.5
34.2
Information re legal services
0
0
2.5
General information re law/legal rights
0
1.3
1.3
Legal representation in court/tribunal
0
5.1
5.1
Legal paperwork
0
0
0
Other legala
0
5.1
3.8
Non-legal
44.4
22.8
11.4
Medical advice/assistance
0
7.6
0
Financial/insurance advice/assistance
0
0
2.5
Information re non-legal services
3.7
0
1.3
General non-legal information
0
0
0
Non-legal counselling/supportb
40.7
11.4
6.3
Non-legal paperwork
0
0
0
Other non-legalc
0
5.1
1.3
Legal versus non-legal not specified
40.7
31.6
35.4
Specific advice
18.5
22.8
25.3
Information re services
0
0
0
General informationd
3.7
8.9
7.6
Paperwork
0
0
2.5
Other
22.2
5.1
3.8
No. of events
27
79
79
a e.g. initial legal assistance such as legal advocacy, negotiation or mediation; legal settlement; law reform.
b e.g. psychological counselling; moral support; housing/financial support.
c e.g. non-legal advice on other issues (e.g. council, employment, engineering, real estate); non-legal advocacy.
d e.g. information published via the internet, books, pamphlets.

Notes: N=1233 for Tables 5.7a and 5.7b. Type of help was missing for 224 events where help was sought. Four unclassified events were excluded. Credit/debt (n=11), human rights (n=18) and traffic offence (n=6) events were excluded because there were insufficient numbers for reliable results. Multiple types of help were sometimes obtained from the sole or most useful adviser.
A significance test was not conducted.

Where participants used multiple advisers for the same event, they were asked to answer the question only in terms of the assistance they had obtained from the adviser they judged to be the most useful.
For two of these 323 events, legal help was received together with non-legal help, and for 10 of these 323 events, legal help was received together with an unspecified form of help.
For three of these events, non-legal help was received together with an unspecified form of help.
The legal versus non-legal nature of the help received was not specified for 38.2% of events where help was sought.
See previous note.
See previous note.
Given that multiple types of help were sometimes obtained from the sole or most useful adviser, the observations were not independent. A significance test was not conducted.
It is important to note that in 41.8% of the events where a non-legal adviser was used, participants did not specify whether the help received was of a legal or non-legal nature. Thus, the percentage of cases where non-legal advisers provided legal help may have been higher than 14.8%, but would not have been as high as that for traditional legal advisers (85.4%).
A significance test was not conducted.
Given that multiple types of help were sometimes received from the same adviser, the observations were not independent. A significance test was not conducted. Because information on type of help was available for only a small number of credit/debt (n=11), human rights (n=18) and traffic offence (n=6) events, these events are excluded from the table because the breakdowns are likely to be unreliable.

 Where participants used multiple advisers for the same event, they were asked to answer the question only in terms of the assistance they had obtained from the adviser they judged to be the most useful.
 For two of these 323 events, legal help was received together with non-legal help, and for 10 of these 323 events, legal help was received together with an unspecified form of help.
10  For three of these events, non-legal help was received together with an unspecified form of help.
11  The legal versus non-legal nature of the help received was not specified for 38.2% of events where help was sought.
12  See previous note.
13  See previous note.
14  Given that multiple types of help were sometimes obtained from the sole or most useful adviser, the observations were not independent. A significance test was not conducted.
15  It is important to note that in 41.8% of the events where a non-legal adviser was used, participants did not specify whether the help received was of a legal or non-legal nature. Thus, the percentage of cases where non-legal advisers provided legal help may have been higher than 14.8%, but would not have been as high as that for traditional legal advisers (85.4%).
16  A significance test was not conducted.
17  Given that multiple types of help were sometimes received from the same adviser, the observations were not independent. A significance test was not conducted. Because information on type of help was available for only a small number of credit/debt (n=11), human rights (n=18) and traffic offence (n=6) events, these events are excluded from the table because the breakdowns are likely to be unreliable.


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Coumarelos, C, Wei , Z & Zhou, AH 2006, Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney