LawWorks supports a growing network of local independent pro bono advice clinics across England and Wales. Every year LawWorks publish the LawWorks Clinics report based on data collected from across the clinics network; it provides details of the pro bono advice and assistance carried out by pro bono clinics participating in the LawWorks Clinics Network for the reporting period (1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.) This year’s report also contains sampled data on client outcomes (from our ‘Better Information Project’).
Whilst pro bono makes an important contribution to enabling access to justice, the report underlines why pro bono it is not – and should not be seen as – an alternative to legal aid.
The main findings are summarised below:
Clinics and enquiries
- There were 229 active clinics across England and Wales in the LawWorks Clinics Network on 31 March 2018 (which has increased to 244 clinics as of December 2018);
- There were 59,902 individual enquiries at clinics in the period between April 2017 and March 2018, a 2% increase on the previous year;
- 39,937 clients were given legal advice at a clinic, a 14% increase from last year;
- A further 12,250 clients were given general information or signposted or referred to other services;
- 41% of clinics in the network are law school-based clinics and, collectively, they dealt with over 19,000 enquiries last year.
Areas of law
- 35% of the advice provided was on family law, with housing and employment law as the next largest advice categories.
- Over 9,000 individuals volunteered across the LawWorks Clinics Network, a 33% reported increase on the previous year – 28% of volunteers were solicitors.
- 76% of clinic co-ordinators have seen an increase in demand for pro bono legal advice over the last year, and over half of clinic co-ordinators (52%) have seen an increase in the number of clients in crisis or distress.
- Of those clients whose income was recorded, 72% have incomes below the Joseph Rowntree Foundation minimum income standard; 60% of clients were women, nearly 49% were from black and minority ethnic communities, and 22% identified as having a disability;
- Our outcomes monitoring project, based on a representative sample, found that over 75% of clients reported that, as a result of the information or advice they received, they felt more confident in dealing with their problem and had a better understanding of their situation.
Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of LawWorks said: "This year has seen a modest growth in the number of clinics, enquiries and advice provided across the LawWorks Clinic Network. This year’s report includes findings from our outcomes research which further evidences the benefit of the work of clinics. Clinics should be rightly proud of the work they do.”