Most criminal legal aid customers are highly satisfied with the service they receive, whether it was delivered by the Public Defence Service (PDS) or a private lawyer, two surveys of legally aided people have found. “The surveys are part of our commitment to designing services around the people who use them,” says General Manager, Legal Aid Services, Michele McCreadie.
“It’s vital we get feedback on our customers’ direct experience of the system – first, because we need to know that legal aid is delivering quality services for the users of the system, and second, because customers’ feedback is important for the development of services which improve the customer experience.”
In September 2014, Legal Aid Services approached PDS customers to find out about their experiences. Of the 104 customers surveyed 77% (80 respondents) expressed a high level of satisfaction with their experience applying for legal aid. The satisfaction level was based on the customers’ responses to questions about how easy it was to apply, how quickly the service responded and how easy it was to understand the information provided about their application.
Additionally, 72% (75 respondents) of customers expressed a high level of satisfaction with the service received from their PDS lawyer. This was based on questions about how users had experienced various attributes of their lawyer’s service including; was it polite and respectful, were they listened to, were they helped to understand their legal situation, what they needed to do next, confidence in their lawyer and whether they would use the same lawyer again if faced with a similar situation.
In March 2015, the survey was expanded beyond the PDS to include customers whose criminal legal aid service was provided by private lawyers. A further 101 customers participated, with similar results. About 72% (73) of respondents had a high level of satisfaction with the application process, with 89% (90 respondents) satisfied or very satisfied with their experience. About 70% (71 respondents) had a high level of satisfaction with their lawyer’s service and 85% (86 respondents) were satisfied or very satisfied with the service.
Work is under way to develop a similar survey for the customers of family legal aid. “We plan to move to surveying customers in all law types on a regular cycle,” Ms McCreadie says. “The customer voice is critical for how we deliver modern, accessible, people-centred justice services.”