Early professional legal advice has a statistically significant effect on the timing of the resolution of people's legal issues, according to research from English market researchers Ipsos MORI.
The research, Analysis of the potential effects of early legal advice/intervention, was recently released by the Law Society of England and Wales, which commissioned it.
It was generated from a 2015/16 study on individuals' legal needs which included an online survey to examine individuals' experiences of 29 legal issues. The survey provided quantitative findings from 8,192 participants, which examined the responses from 16,694 issues.
Further analysis of the data was carried out to assess the impact of early advice on the basis of three issues that were explored in the legal needs survey. These were:
Those who had problems getting the right welfare benefits, tax benefits, pensions and student loans.
Homelessness (being homeless or threatened with being homeless).
Those who had their home repossessed or who faced eviction from a rented property.
"Early professional legal advice" was defined as "within 3 months of the issue first occurring". This covered advice from a solicitor, or other professional advisers such as citizens advice bureaux or trades unions.
The analysis showed that on average, 25% of people who received early professional legal advice had resolved their problem within 3-4 months of the problem first occurring. For people who did not receive early legal advice, it was not until 9 months after the issue had first occurred that 25% had resolved their issue.
Correspondingly, and controlling for other factors that can affect problem resolution, people who did not receive early advice were 20% less likely than average to have resolved their issue at a particular point in time.
The main other factors affecting problem resolution were the severity of the issues, and people's previous knowledge of their legal rights.
"More severe problems, as would be expected, take longer on average to resolve, and people with little previous knowledge of their legal rights were 33% less likely than average to have resolved their issue at a particular point."