The Ministry of Justice has commissioned academics from the School of Law and Politics to carry out the first investigation of blended legal advice, a service which was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report, Blended Advice and Access to Justice, by Cardiff University’s Dr Daniel Newman and Danielle O’Shea and Monash University’s Dr Jessica Mant, was published this April and looks into the model of ‘blended advice’ during the pandemic which involved legal advice being shared through a combination of face to face interaction and remote communications.
During this period no single model of blended advice was rolled out and a variety of strategies were used at different stages of the advice process. The new report explores how these models have emerged and developed over the course of the pandemic in 3 key areas of law: debt, housing and welfare benefits.
Dr Newman said of the report, “Issues connected to debt, housing and welfare tend to cluster together but this was amplified during the pandemic. During that time there was an increase in the number of people seeking support. Our report aims to qualitatively explore how people sought advice on theses topics during this time and how advice organisations responded.”
The findings presented in the report are drawn from focus groups and case studies with advisors who worked on the frontline of advice provision and interviews with clients who received blended advice during the pandemic.
The findings provide specific insight into how advice organisations have responded to the pandemic by innovating with blended advice models. In addition to identifying examples of models that are currently being used, the report provides a variety of perspectives about the efficacy of blended advice for helping people to resolve debt, housing and welfare benefits problems, as well as the potential challenges and opportunities associated with an increased reliance on blended models in the future.