The Workforce Survey aims to provide to the most detailed analysis of legal aid practitioners to date, collating baseline data which can be built upon year on year. The survey will be launched via social media, representative body networks and academic institutions in January 2021. Respondents will be able to complete the survey online or to arrange a brief telephone interview whereupon volunteers will collect the responses on their behalf. Respondents will have the opportunity to answer the questions in the following capacities:
- as Managers/ Owners within legal aid organisations;
- as Managers/ Owners and legal aid fee-earners;
- as legal aid fee earners;
- as students and those trying to join the legal aid profession; and
- as former legal aid practitioners who have chosen to leave the sector.
Those answering the survey on behalf of their organisations will provide information about the delivery of legal aid Post-LASPO and post-pandemic. Questions will look at fees, salaries, overheads, contract compliance, business models, transaction costs (i.e. the costs of contract compliance, billing, fulfilling contractual prerequisites), production costs (the costs of solicitors/caseworkers delivering legal advice), remuneration rates and associated costs such as training and recruiting staff, regulation, and system failures.
Those answering the survey as individual fee-earners will be providing information about their experiences in legal aid: their salaries, working conditions, professional satisfaction and how the landscape has changed in the wake of LASPO and the pandemic and their career intentions for the future. More junior fee-earners will also be invited to complete the section set out, which is designed to provide baseline data on motivation, routes into and barriers to entering the legal aid profession.
Students and those aspiring to become legal aid practitioners will answer questions about their socio-economic backgrounds, the routes into the profession and the barriers that they face in trying to enter it, with a particular focus on the ability of those from diverse backgrounds to train and qualify into the sector. We will be asking about the provision of social welfare courses at their academic institutions, academic requirements and the availability and necessity of work experience. We want to obtain information about the culture of the profession, student debt and expectations remuneration levels and the issues that these perpetuate. We intend to identify the student respondents to this part of the survey and to chart their career progression over the coming years.
Finally, we will use volunteers to contact individuals and organisations identified as having practiced in legal aid when LASPO came into force in April 2013. Those answering the survey as former practitioners will answer questions about their reasons for leaving the sector.
Throughout, we will be looking at the ability of legal aid providers to recruit and retain employees and the demographic profile of practitioners, examining the concerns around diversity and inclusivity within the profession, an ageing demographic in various specialties and the wellbeing of those practicing in this area.
Key to this success of the survey will be getting support from across the sector. To that end we have met with the various representative bodies across the profession and enlisted their support in pushing this out to their members. We will be reliant on academic institutions to
It is our aim to make practical recommendations which promote short- to medium-term recovery of the sector, to develop solutions to the challenge of diversity within the sector and to begin to collate quantitative data to inform thinking about the longer-term future of the profession as a whole.