Why we need better public legal education and information
Half of the population experience a civil justice issue every 36 months.
- Only 11% of people accurately recognise their problems as legal issues.
- The vast majority of people tackle their legal problems alone – only 6% use a lawyer and 4% use advice agencies.
- A quarter (25%) of those with a legal problem seek help on the internet.
- People with low levels of legal capability are less likely to take action, and less able to successfully solve legal problems. They are twice as likely to experience negative consequences as a result of their legal problems, including stress-related ill-health, loss of income and family breakdown.
In 2017–18 we provided information and support to 900,000 people via our award-winning website Advicenow. Advicenow’s curated information service brings together 1,600 pieces of public legal information from over 450 UK websites. Every piece is reviewed against our inclusion criteria. Our most popular guides include:
- How to win a PIP appeal – 18,255 page views per month.
- PIP Mandatory Reconsideration Request Letter Tool - 11,300 page views per month (the tool is used by more than 1,300 people a month to produce a personalised letter to send to the DWP to challenge a decision about their benefit)
- How to apply for a court order about the arrangements for your children without the help of a lawyer – 8,300 page views per month.
- A survival guide to benefits and living together – 7,550 page views per month.
- How to deal with a tax credit overpayment – 5,400 page views per month.
- How to apply for a financial order without the help of a lawyer - 3,300 page views per month.
In addition our two most popular films on YouTube - How to Represent yourself in family court and How to fill in your financial statement (Form E) - have been watched more than 37,000 and 29,000 times respectively. In 2017 Advicenow won the Access to Justice through IT award at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards, and won a Plain English award for How to win a PIP appeal. In 2018 we were shortlisted for a BIMA Award, in the Product and Service Design: Conscience category. Our 'in person' education and empowerment workshops 167 people, representing 80 different organisations. Many of our projects include both an information and education element to increase understanding and recognition of the issues amongst those that work with the most vulnerable in society so that they can better support them to deal with their legal problems.
Our spokespeople are available for interview on a range of issues related to public legal education.
Dr Lisa Wintersteiger, Chief Executive
Lisa’s early career was in the advice and community sector including legal aid casework, youth and community development and regeneration programmes. She has also been a policy consultant and researcher in advice needs, international human rights and more recently has been leading public legal education research and programming. She specialises in access to justice interventions both in the UK and abroad. Her expertise is in bringing together theory and practice, policy development and designing programmes to meet the needs of vulnerable people. In 2011 she co-founded Law for Life. She holds a PhD in law on the intersection of Frankfurt School Critical Theory and education. She has taught at Birkbeck, University of London where she co-convened clinical education and as visiting faculty at the Central European University. Lisa talks powerfully and persuasively about the case for improved public knowledge and understanding of the law, and the impact on human rights, access to justice and community empowerment.
Mary Marvel, Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Communications
Mary specialises in translating the law into accessible and engaging materials, drawing on her experience delivering public legal education and advice on the ground in student, community and mental health projects. Mary can provide excellent real-world insight into common legal issues in areas ranging from the private rental market and benefit disputes, to divorce, and individuals representing themselves in court.
Dada Felja, Head of Education and Training
Dada has spent years working with refugees and asylum seekers, and particularly with Roma communities in the UK, providing a range of support including advice and advocacy, mentoring, education and training. Dada is well placed to discuss issues relating to minority communities and their experience of complex and multiple legal issues.
Law for Life wins access to justice through IT prize in 2017 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards
Law for Life has won the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALYS) award for access to justice through IT for its Advicenow website. The LALYS are run by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group and celebrate the work of the legal profession in improving access to justice. The Advicenow website is one of a range of services provided by Law for Life to help build people’s knowledge, confidence and skills in dealing with law-related issues. It brings together information on rights and the law, selected and quality-checked by experts, and a host of in-depth guides and tools, produced by Law for Life, offering practical help in managing and resolving legal problems without the support of a lawyer or adviser. Mary Marvel, Head of Policy and Communications at Law for Life, says: "We are delighted to have won the award for Access to Justice through IT, particularly as the field was so strong. It has further energised us in our work of providing access to justice solutions that work for everybody." The winners were announced by Baroness Doreen Lawrence at a ceremony on 5 July 2017.