The main findings of this report are summarised below:
- There are currently 175 clinics in the LawWorks Clinics Network.
- 85% of clinics offer initial advice services, 49% offer written advice services, 26% provide form filling services, 23% offer casework services, and 19% offer representation.
- 63% of clinics offer appointments and 32% run drop in services.
- 20% of clinics provide their service by telephone and 11% offer online services.
- There were over 29,000 enquiries at clinics in the period of April 2013 to March 2014.
- 62% of enquires resulted in the provision of legal advice and 23% of enquiries resulted in the provision of general information or a referral/signposting to another services.
Areas of law delivered in pro bono legal advice clinics
- Employment law and housing law are the most common areas of law delivered in clinics. The breakdown of the largest areas of delivery is as follows: employment 24%, housing 20%, human rights 15%, family/child law 12%, consumer/contract law 11%, asylum/immigration 9%, welfare benefits 5% and debt 4%.
- The delivery of welfare benefits advice in clinics has increased by 103.4% compared to the previous year. Asylum/immigration advice has increased by 76.4% and family/child law has increased by 42%.
- The delivery of debt advice in clinics has decreased by 36.3% compared to the previous year. Employment advice has decreased by 9.9% though still remains the most common area of law delivered in clinics.
- Looking at the country regionally, employment law is the most common area of advice given in most parts of the country, with civil litigation the most common area in the North East, family law the most common in the South West, East of England, and Scotland, and welfare benefits the most common in Northern Ireland.
Pro bono volunteering
- Over 3392 individuals currently volunteer at clinics: 62% are students, 32% are solicitors or barristers, 1% are legal executives, and 1% are paralegals.
- The average month sees over 46,815 hours of pro bono volunteering being done in clinics, with 36,161 hours being delivered by students and 9,368 hours being delivered by solicitors or barristers.
- Of those that volunteer at a clinic, on average each student volunteers approximately 17.2 hours per month and each solicitor or barrister volunteers approximately 8.6 hours per month.
- 75% of clinic clients earn below the Joseph Rowntree Scale Minimum Income Standard in Britain which was £13,200 per annum at the time.
- 19% of clinic clients consider themselves to have a disability.
- 54% of clinic clients identify as male and 46% identify as female.
- 51% of clinic clients are from ethnic minority backgrounds, a proportion 3.5 times higher than the 14% of the UK general population made up of individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds.
- Over half of clinic clients are aged between 25 and 44. Less than 10% are aged 24 or under, and 7% are over 65.
Impact of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) on clinic services
- 84% of clinics have seen an increase in demand for legal advice since the introduction of LASPO.
- Over three-quarters of clinics have seen an increase in the complexity of legal matters since the introduction of LASPO and half are seeing clients come to clinics at a later stage in their legal matter.
- 40% of clinics feel there is less expertise in the areas of law relevant to client needs and 20% are finding it more difficult to provide adequate supervision of volunteers. 14% are seeing a reduction in their clinic’s supporting infrastructure, with 27% experiencing reduced capacity to provide pro bono legal clinic services.
- Nearly a third of clinics have experience an increased willingness of volunteers to provide free advice.
- Less than one in ten clinics feel that the quality of legal advice being given in their clinic has decreased since the introduction of LASPO.
- Nearly a third of clinics consider there to have been an increase in the proportion of unjust outcomes since the introduction of LASPO