The main findings from the Clinics report are summarised below:
- There were 225 clinics across England and Wales in the LawWorks Clinics Network on 31 March 2017;
- There were over 58,000 individual enquiries at clinics in the period between April 2016 and March 2017, a 10% increase on the previous year;
- Over 35,000 clients were given legal advice at a clinic, with a further 11,858 clients given general information or signposted or referred to other services;
- 26% of the advice provided was on family law, with housing and employment law as the next largest advice categories;
- 6,000 individuals volunteered across the LawWorks Clinics Network, a 24% increase on the previous year - 37% of volunteers were solicitors or trainees;
- 82% of clinic clients have income below the Joseph Rowntree Foundation minimum income standard; 58% of clients were women, 48% were from black and minority ethnic communities, and 24% had a disability.
- 80% of clinic co-ordinators reported an increase in demand for pro bono legal advice over the last year, and two-thirds of clinics (67%) have also seen an increase in the number of clients in crisis or distress.
Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of LawWorks said: "This year has seen an increase in the number of clinics and enquiries across the LawWorks Clinic Network, demonstrating that pro bono makes an important contribution to enabling access to justice. The clinics in the LawWorks Clinic Network should be rightfully proud of the work they do.
Pro bono should not be seen as an alternative though to legal aid and the need for properly funded legal support provision in the community. Demand has never been greater as cuts to legal aid, reduced funding for law centres and local advice services, and tribunal and court fees have significantly reduced the ability of many to access legal advice and representation."