Lawyers are being urged to take part in a unique drive to gather hard data that will increase pressure on the government to reform legal aid.
The Legal Aid Practitioners Group is today unveiling a 2021 Legal Aid Census to gather information about the backgrounds and experiences of those working on the social justice frontline. It says the census will be the first detailed exploration of the financial and other pressures forcing lawyers to give up publicly funded work.
Chris Minnoch, LAPG chief executive, said: ‘We know from anecdotal evidence and what we see with our own eyes every day, that the social justice sector is in crisis. What we have lacked – and what the census will give us for the first time – is the hard data to back up our calls for urgent reform.’
The group says the census is aimed at everyone working in legal aid and those who have left the sector. Business owners will be able to share data about overheads and the cost of complying with Legal Aid Agency requirements.
Rohini Teather, LAPG’s head of parliamentary affairs, said the census has been road-tested by busy practitioners to ensure it is easy to complete.
The census has been devised in conjunction with legal academics from Newcastle Law School, Cardiff University and University College London, who will analyse the findings.
The findings will complement the all-party parliamentary group’s inquiry on legal aid sector sustainability, due to report in September.