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The International Access to Justice Online Forum 2022 was excellent!

April 26th 2022

The International Access to Justice Online Forum was held in late March/early April. Staged in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine School of Law’s Civil Justice Research Initiative, it drew attendees from around the world.

The forum ran over three days and we heard from leading experts from Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom on contemporary access to justice issues, including legal need and climate change; deregulation of the legal profession; legal need, empowerment and older people; and culturally appropriate service design and delivery. Many thanks to all who took part – and in particular, congratulations to my colleague Tenielle Hagland for making the forum such a success – while a whole host of people were on deck, Tenielle was in the wheelhouse.

Recordings of each session are available.

Data Mapping Project is in its third phase

The third phase of the Data Mapping Project, led by my multi-award winning colleague Dr Jozica Kutin, is just finishing up in the field.

The survey maps the data collected and used by dispute resolution and complaint bodies in Victoria: could this data tell us something about the people that use these services? Findings will be available mid-year.

In December we released: Smarter Data: The use and utility of administrative data in Victorian Courts and Tribunals, the second phase in the Data Mapping Project. The report provides insights into the use and utility of administrative data collected in Victorian courts and tribunals. Download a copy and share with your colleagues and networks. The first report, which focused on the legal assistance sector, can also be downloaded from our website.

Victorian Community Legal Centres Workforce survey findings to be launched

Two reports from the Community Legal Centres Workforce Project will be launched in May. This project was funded by the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria Inc.

Stay tuned for launch details.

Our Public Understanding of Law Survey

Fieldwork is ongoing for the Public Understanding of Law Survey (PULS). Our fieldwork company will be talking to 6000 Victorians to explore how they see, understand and engage with the law.

Many of you know the story by now, but the PULS is an innovative combination of best practice from a long tradition of legal need surveys, and cutting edge research quantifying aspects of legal capability. The combination of legal need and legal capability is a key feature of the PULS, and one that allows us to explore an exciting new range of questions, while giving legal need surveys a shove forward.

But returning to the central legal need survey part, we thought we would remind you about some of the issues the PULS covers.

What type of problems do legal need surveys cover?

Legal need surveys ask about a range of everyday problems that people encounter throughout their lives, and the PULS does too.

These include a broad range of issues which involve rights or raise legal issues, whether or not the legal dimension is recognised or the problem acted upon. For example, concerning:

  • goods and services
  • housing and neighbours
  • family
  • injury or illness
  • work
  • government payments
  • fines
  • government services
  • money or debt
  • business

While problems are widespread and can be described as ‘everyday’, the impact they can have on people’s lives can be profound. They can stem from and result in physical and mental ill-health, damaged relationships, harassment, threats and assault, housing loss, or financial insecurity. They are essentially ‘legal issues’, but the ramifications can be far-reaching.

Find out more about how the PULS will benefit all Victorians on our website.

For now, you can learn more about the PULS on our website.

Professor Nigel J. Balmer

Research Director