Only half of public receive professional help for legal issues, report finds

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By Rhys Duncan on


Cost of living creating and worsening legal issues

Only half of the public received professional advice when facing a legal issue over the last four years, a new report has found.

The Legal Needs Survey 2023, commissioned by the Law Society and the Legal Services Board, shows that, whilst two thirds (66%) of people surveyed in England and Wales have experienced legal issues in the last four year, only 52% received professional help.

Of the remainder, 38% received no help at all, and 11% received “non-professional help”, including from family members or friends.

The most common issues encountered in the survey related to employment, finance, welfare and benefits (28%), wills, trusts and probate (26%), consumer problems (26%) and property, construction and planning (25%).

Also prevalent were issues with conveyancing/residential matters (18%).

The cost of living was cited by 15% of those surveyed as a cause of their legal issue, with 12% saying their problems could be attributed to the pandemic, and 5% as a result of Brexit. Over a quarter (26%), however, said that their issue was made worse by the increasing cost of living, with 23% saying that the pandemic has worsened their problem.

On the report, Law Society president Nick Emmerson commented: “With two in three people experiencing at least one legal issue, it is evident that the legal system continues to play a vital role in everyday life.”

“Solicitors are the most frequently used adviser by individuals with legal issues. Out of those who received professional help, almost nine in ten were satisfied with their legal adviser and seven in ten believe that the help they received allowed them to get a better outcome.”

“The research shows the essential support solicitors provide to the public and presents an opportunity to raise awareness of how people with legal needs can seek professional help.”

Alan Kershaw, chair of the Legal Services Board, added that, “The COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have caused people’s legal issues to worsen, and it is concerning that some people feel they need to rely on friends or family who are not legally qualified rather than seek professional legal support.”

He continued, “regulation has a vital part to play in creating a legal services market where people can identify that they have a legal issue, easily shop around for support, compare prices, and choose a provider that meets their needs.”


david wacks

I am a retired solicitor but still work on quasi-legal work which does not require me to be a practicing solicitor and receive numerous enquiries well outside my present specified areas of work, eg on criminal cases where people can’t get legal aid or a wide variety of other issues . I make clear it is not an area of my expertise and may well be not up to date but many are stressed if not suicidal and so with many years general experience try and point them in the right direction . Often they tell me they have tried elsewhere and are at a total loss but its quite clear that there are massive gaps in provision which have only got wider over the years


One wonders whether, rather than replacing all the lawyers as alarmists predict, AI legal tools will actually fill the niche that lawyers aren’t – work at this level. It won’t necessarily be good or reliable but preferable to googling and asking neighbours.

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