State of the Sector survey: We need your help

ilegal founders Patrick Torsney and Colin Henderson have joined forces with researchers at the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick to capture the impact of LASPO cuts to civil legal aid on professionals working in the sector and their clients. This piece of research has the potential to ‘play a significant role in future discussions around supporting social welfare law and future specialist advice services generally’, says Patrick. ‘However, in order to achieve this, we need as many people as possible to fill in the survey before the deadline of 3 March 2013.’

Background to the survey
In late 2012, Patrick and Colin approached the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick to develop a method of capturing the experiences of the membership of the ilegal forum before the LASPO cuts to civil legal aid took effect.

I am working with them to design a survey to capture the immediate impact of the LASPO cuts, and provide a robust evidence base to demonstrate the lasting effect of the cuts on both the sector and the individuals it serves. As the project developed, it was decided to extend the reach of the survey beyond ilegal members, to capture as large a proportion of the legal aid funded sector as possible.

The ethos of the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick is focussed on creating original, high-quality research that can be used to inform debates that are of importance to the wider community. By tapping into ilegal’s large cross-sector membership, and spreading the word far and wide as possible, it is hoped that we can collect a uniquely large set of data that captures the wealth of experience and knowledge within the sector at present and provides a resource that can be used by social justice campaigners, legal advice providers and their representatives post LASPO.

What is the survey for?
This survey has been created to gather robust and independent evidence regarding the impact of cuts to civil legal aid on the legal advice sector as we move towards the implementation of LASPO in April.

Much of the focus to date has been on the immediate impact of the cuts on advice providers and the individuals they support. This survey aims to capture the lasting impact on the sector by examining, amongst other things, any cumulative loss of expertise that may result from service closures.

By exploring what will happen to individuals working in the affected categories of law as the sector prepares itself for the cuts taking effect, we hope to provide rigorous evidence demonstrating the impact of LASPO on the civil law sector.

Who is the survey for?
The survey is aimed at all individuals currently working or who have recently left roles in legal aid funded civil law, both in private practice and non-profit organisations.

If you have been involved in delivering advice in relation to:

  • Community Care
  • Debt
  • Discrimination
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Housing
  • Immigration and Asylum
  • Mental Health
  • Public Law
  • Welfare Benefits

We need to hear from you.

The survey is sector wide, and participation is not linked to membership of any particular advice network or representative body. The more respondents we can get, the greater the potential impact of the report.

What is the survey looking at?
The questions in the survey are designed to explore what will happen to practitioners, their clients and the organisations they work for as the legal aid cuts progress and LASPO comes into effect. We are particularly interested in exploring the impact of the cuts on the retention and promotion of expertise in matters of civil law that have traditionally been funded through legal aid.

What will the results be used for?
The results of the survey and key messages from the data will be published as a report on the 2nd April to coincide with LASPO coming into effect.  The report will feed into the work being carried out by the Low Commission and the survey has the support of Lord Bach, amongst others, who have agreed to be involved in promoting the survey.

To take part in the survey please follow the link here:



About Natalie Byrom

Natalie Byrom is director of research and learning at the Legal Education Foundation. She has recently completed a PhD exploring the impact of cuts to legal aid on the ability of vulnerable individuals to access justice, using law centres as a case study

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