I need a lawyer - but I’ll handle it on my own
DIY dispute management? – think again
Ruth Jewell, a Dispute Resolution solicitor at Lawson-West Solicitors in Leicestershire outlines some of the key findings of a recent legal needs research survey and the important role played by lawyers in helping people to resolve their legal issues.
According to 2019 YouGov research commissioned by The Legal Services Board and Law Society of the perceptions and experiences of 28,633 people and their legal needs, there were some interesting findings.
This was the biggest legal needs survey ever conducted in England and Wales. 
The research found that:
64% of adults (2 in every 3 people) based in England and Wales had experienced a legal issue in the last four years
53% of issues were contentious in nature
55% of people with a legal issue sought professional legal help; 11% tried to get help from family and friends and 15% tried to resolve the legal issues themselves
30% of respondents had an unmet legal need for a contentious legal issue – an issue that hadn’t been resolved
90% of people who sought help were satisfied with the service they received from solicitors.
Most common were issues relating to a professional or defective goods/service (26%), anti-social behaviour by neighbours (14%), buying or selling property (11%), Wills (11%) and employment (11%).
Using a lawyer - a good experience
Solicitors score highest for service satisfaction. 90% of people (who had decided to use a solicitor) were satisfied with the service they received, and 84% thought the solicitor provided value for money.
Respondents who received professional help were also more likely to feel they had had a fair outcome (66%).
Ruth Jewell comments:
“I speak to many people each day with a legal dispute that needs resolving and often the process involved isn’t as complex or as onerous as they first think. Resolution can sometimes be as simple as a letter to the other side setting-out your position.
What this survey illustrates is how tentative people are of instructing a legal professional when they know they have a legal dispute. When they do instruct a solicitor, their dispute is handled quickly, efficiently and they can get on with the rest of their lives with greater peace of mind. People are often put off by thinking dispute resolution will cost a lot of money, or they think they can resolve the issues themselves.
It can take a whole lot of pressure off you to know that someone independent is supporting your point of view and situation.
Of course, not all disputes are resolved in a defendant’s favour, and not all disputes are easy to navigate, some may take several months, but you do stand a far better chance of complete resolution if you instruct someone who knows all about the legal process and the pitfalls of different courses of action.”
Ruth Jewell advocates appointing a professional solicitor in all disputes:
“Trying to do a DIY-job on an area of the law of which you know very little is a disaster waiting to happen. Appointing a professional legal adviser is clearly the best course of action if you want legal clarity, timely advice and the best resolution possible.”
The Law Society:  https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/research-trends/legal-needs-of-individuals-in-england-and-wales-report/ Jan 2020