By David Laws
Why do most people with a legal issue either end up doing nothing about it or try to handle it themselves without professional legal input?
The Legal Services Board and Law Society did some research awhile back involving 8,192 people who had experienced 16,692 legal issues.
They found that 14% did nothing and 57% tried to handle them alone or with some informal help. The various statistics they came up with get a bit tedious, but in summary, the reasons were mostly down to a fear of professional advice costing too much.
My experience is that it can end up costing more through not getting proper advice.
Earlier this year I launched a new online legal service called “LawsOnline.co.uk” designed to make it easy for people to outline their legal problem and to get a fixed quote for a fixed task on the basis that they will be helped to help themselves.
The standard of advice and guidance is the same; however, people do as much of the work themselves as possible, but with professional advice and guidance in the background.
It was reported by the Legal Services Consumer Panel that when people use their own resources in this way they can save up to two-thirds of the costs of a case. That’s a big saving.
With LawsOnline there is no cost for an initial assessment. The costs only kick in if people decide that they are happy with the quote for a particular task and want to proceed.
The thinking behind this is not only to help people on one-off legal issues, but also to help “litigants in person” as much as possible, there being more of them than ever since all the cutbacks on legal aid.
Many readers will know of Lord Charlie Falconer PC, QC who was Lord Chancellor in the Tony Blair government and is still active in the political arena today.
He came to hear of LawsOnline and wrote to me saying it was an excellent idea and urgently needed. That led to us having a long telephone discussion about it, followed by a helpful meeting with him a few weeks ago at his London office.
We both agreed that it’s difficult to reach and inform the people who most need this service and even to describe it, but his interest and encouragement have been a welcome boost.