Technological Innovation and the Status of Modern Civil Legal Aid in the U.K.
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The status of technology used in the English legal aid system has previously been studied only in a limited manner. The Legal Services Research Centre (LSRC) has conducted civil justice surveys in 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2007. Outside of those studies, however, relatively little data exists on either government agencies other than the LSC and non-governmental legal aid providers. Thus the purpose of this study is to analyze the existing data for LSC use of technology, and collect new data on the use of technology by non-governmental legal aid providers. In particular, data will be collected on the Citizen’s Advice Bureaus and London-based solicitors firms. It would appear that the use of technology, primarily telephone lines and internet, has increased since the reform of the English legal aid system in 2000. LSC data demonstrates that the government-funded technology experiments have allowed for more efficient provision of legal aid services without significant increases in funding for civil legal aid projects. CAB data also demonstrates a regular increase in the use of their website for legal advice, although no financial comparison is available. In contrast, no definitive trend claim can be made regarding solicitors firms because this study marks the first instance in which data of this nature was collected from solicitors. In addition, the limited number of participants may not permit the findings of this study to be representative of all London-based solicitors firms. As a result, more research is required on this topic, especially with regard to civil legal aid providing solicitors.