By Lauren Morley and Asma Osman Ahmed, Sheffield Hallam Law students
The Law Society Research Unit collaborated with Ipsos-MORI to undertake research into the effects of early legal advice. They found:
A quarter of the people who received early legal advice resolved their dispute within 4 months compared to 9 months for those who did not receive early advice.
People who did not receive early advice were 20% less likely to have their dispute resolved than those who did.
What is it?
Early professional legal advice is advice from a solicitor (or other legal professional advisor) received within the first three months of the dispute arising.
Legal advice sought in the early stages allows for individuals to receive information that may be relevant to their dispute (such as explanations of complex terms and legal systems). Thus, allowing them to have a greater understanding of their case and where they may stand.
Why is it important?
It enables conflicts to be addressed before they escalate too far.
“Seeking legal advice at an early stage can give you a better chance of resolving problems before they escalate. It can also mean you have a wider range of options available to you to help with the issue” – Ruth Dawson, SHU Law Solicitor
By addressing the issue as soon as possible it can prevent the dispute going to court unnecessarily by using the additional time to find an alternative solution accepted by both parties.
This means both money and time can be saved in the process.
YouGov found in 1,000 divorce cases, 41% of the parties suffered from negative mental health effects as a consequence of the process. When those individuals were questioned, 63% of the parties involved felt if they had received early legal advice, it would have improved their experience.
Access to early legal advice
Since 2012, due to the implementation of LASPO (Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012), legal aid has not been available for early advice. Since November 2017 the Law Society has been campaigning for legal aid to be reinstated for early legal advice.
How SHU Law can help
SHU Law is a non-profit teaching law firm that aims to widen access to legal justice.
A key goal for SHU law has been able to provide high quality legal services to those who cannot afford the costs of a solicitor or need cost effective legal representation.
With a dedicated team of solicitors specialising in diverse areas of law, SHU Law may be able to help with: small claims, personal injury claims, commercial dispute resolution, employment law, prison law and criminal appeals.