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New Research Reveals Disparities in Legal Assistance

In a recent study, 42% of individuals with low incomes faced legal proceedings without any legal representation, compared to only 19% of those with higher incomes. Even more concerning, eight out of 10 people believe that individuals with fewer financial resources receive worse outcomes within the civil justice system.

New Research Reveals Disparities In Legal Assistance

The Law Society has taken a significant step toward addressing this issue by publishing the interim report of the 21st Century Justice Project. This project aims to narrow the justice gap for small businesses and low-income individuals who cannot afford legal representation or do not qualify for legal aid.

New Research Reveals Disparities In Legal Assistance

Here are the key areas of focus outlined in the report:

New Research Reveals Disparities In Legal Assistance

  1. Online Information and Guidance Tool: The proposal calls for a publicly funded online tool to help users identify legal issues and direct them to appropriate dispute resolution methods.
  2. International Models for Legal Aid: The project explores international models for delivering civil legal aid and investigates how healthcare professionals can refer individuals with legal needs.
  3. Improving Legal Expenses Insurance: A cross-industry working group will enhance insurance coverage for legal expenses, benefiting existing policyholders.
  4. Support for Unbundled and Fixed-Fee Legal Services: The Law Society will provide guidance to members offering unbundled or fixed-fee legal services and explore ways to reduce risk and expand insurance coverage for AI-generated legal services.
  5. Ombudsman Sector Reform: The report emphasizes the importance of reforming the ombudsman sector as part of effective dispute resolution, with a focus on its integration within the Ministry of Justice.
  6. Small Business Dispute Resolution: The project aims to strengthen the role of the Small Business Commissioner in supporting small businesses to resolve disputes.
  7. AI-Generated Legal Services: Stakeholders will collaborate to address risks associated with using AI-generated legal services.
  8. New Research Reveals Disparities In Legal Assistance

The Legal Needs Survey highlights that 54% of respondents now seek legal information online, a 4% increase since 2019. However, trust issues hinder the adoption of AI technology, with 51% expressing distrust due to the lack of human oversight.

New Research Reveals Disparities In Legal Assistance

Nick Emmerson, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, emphasises that access to justice is a fundamental right, regardless of background or financial status. The 21st Century Justice Project aims to create a fairer, more accessible system for all, ensuring timely solutions to legal problems and maintaining a just society.

New Research Reveals Disparities In Legal Assistance

Richard Atkinson, Vice President of the Law Society and Chair of the 21st Century Advisory Group, looks forward to driving the project forward, adapting to changing trends, and realising the vision of a 21st-century justice system.

New Research Reveals Disparities In Legal Assistance

New Research Reveals Disparities In Legal Assistance

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