A recent survey of legal needs in England and Wales co-commissioned by the Law Society has highlighted the benefits of professional help from a quality solicitor but also revealed that almost 1 in 3 people who faced legal issues did not receive – or seek – the help they needed.
According to the report, two thirds of respondents had dealt with a legal issue in the past four years, with over half of these issues (53%) being contentious, such as consumer issues, anti-social behaviour from neighbours, buying or selling property, wills, and employment disputes.
Those who sought out advice and support from a professional solicitor generally did so for more complex issues, but were more likely to feel as though the issue resulted in a fair outcome. 9 out of 10 people who used a solicitor were satisfied with the service they received and 84% stated they believed the services they accessed were good value for money.
Solicitors were most commonly used by older respondents, with younger people more likely to seek free services or informal advice, while 4 in 10 of those aged 65 or older used a solicitor as their main advisor. This declined to 26% for 30-49 year olds, and 18% of 18-29 year olds.
However, many people chose not to – or believed they could not afford to – consult a solicitor, seeking help from other sources, or unregulated providers. Of these, 1 in 5 reported being dissatisfied with the service they received from unregulated services such as will writers and unofficial legal advice organisations. Even more concerningly, 1 in 3 people were not even aware whether the advisor they used was regulated – most simply assumed they were. Dissatisfaction was most commonly down to not getting enough help from an advisor or the process taking too long. Those with lower legal ‘confidence’ (i.e. less understanding of their legal rights) and people on lower incomes were less likely to seek out professional help, and there was a broad belief among respondents that they would not qualify for legal aid (85% of those with a gross annual income under £32,000).
Overall, the survey supports the idea that consulting a solicitor is the best way to get professional advice on potentially complex, personal legal issues like divorce, separation, property law, wills and probate. Concerns and questions over the cost and duration of legal processes can usually be answered by booking a (free!) consultation to talk about your needs and circumstances, and you may be able to use fixed-fee services to help you budget.
Get in touch to speak to one of our friendly, down-to-earth family law solicitors. We can help you with family matters, buying or selling your property, later life planning, wills and powers of attorney.
The report data was based on the feedback of over 28,000 people via YouGov – read the full report here.