Largest ever legal needs survey reveals trends in UK sector

Commissioned by The Law Society and The Legal Services Board, the Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales report 2019/20 reveals that two thirds (64%) of UK adults have faced a legal issue in the past four years.

Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales report

What is the ‘Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales’ report?

The ‘Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales’ report is the largest legal needs survey ever run in England and Wales. Commissioned by The Law Society and The Legal Services Board, the report is based on data from 28,663 people, covering 34 different legal issues and how legal consumers handle these issues along with their outcomes.

Key findings of the Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales report 2019/20:

  • 64% of adults (approximately 29.8 million) experienced a legal issue in the last four years
  • 66% of those with a legal issue received help
  • 55% with a legal issue got professional help
  • 57% of those who did get professional help didn’t have to pay
  • 53% of those who experienced a legal issue had a contentious issue
  • 90% of respondents were satisfied with the work completed by their solicitor
  • 84% of respondents found their solicitor to be good value for money

Unsurprisingly, respondents getting professional help were more likely to get better outcomes than those who didn’t. In fact, two thirds (66 per cent) of those who got professional help feel the outcome was fair compared to just over half (54 per cent) who either got non-professional help or no help.

The report also highlighted a lack of consumer understanding as a factor preventing more people from accessing legal services. As well as 21 per cent of those with a legal issue not thinking or trying for help, only 16 per cent of clients with a contentious legal issue were able to identify the problem as ‘legal’. Instead, many misdiagnosed their issues with almost a third (28 per cent) interpreting legal issues as ‘economic’ or ‘financial’ in nature, preventing them from pursuing legal counsel.

Why do people seek legal advice in the UK?

Between 2016 and the end of 2019, the main reasons people sought legal advice in England and Wales were:

  • defective goods/services (26%)
  • anti-social behaviour (14%)
  • buying or selling property (11%)
  • making or amending a will (11%)
  • employment issues (11%)

However, the report suggests that respondents are failing to shop around for their legal services with only a fifth (21 per cent) researching different legal service providers. A third (33 per cent) were happy with the first law firm they found and over a quarter (28 per cent) relied on recommendations from trusted sources.

On the release of the report, Law Society of England and Wales President Simon Davis commented: “This extensive survey brings home the need to build better public understanding of legal issues and clear, accessible pathways to get professional legal advice. People need to know how to use the legal system to manage the complexities of daily life, whether that’s housing, family issues or employment.

“The Law Society believes in evidence-based policy-making. We hope the results of this survey, co-commissioned with the oversight regulator the LSB, will help legal service providers and government better understand and serve the legal needs of the public.”

See also

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Find out more

Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales (The Legal Services Board)

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 29 January 2020