The Legal Choices website has recently celebrated its first birthday. Site manager, Richard Silver, explains what it has delivered for consumers so far and what’s next in store.
Situations under which we need legal help are as rare as hen's teeth for most of us. However, when the sort of situation comes along that does require legal help, it can have a big impact on our lives.
Often they're triggered by unexpected events such as relationship breakdowns, getting injured, or losing a job.
Sometimes though, life events can give rise to legal issues that remain stressful but have less time pressure. Will writing, for example, or selling a property.
Either way, the common factor is that it can be difficult to get a feel for where to start. It stands to reason that if something only happens once in a blue moon, a person might not know straight away how to handle it.
When problems end up needing help from a lawyer, the legal market brings its own puzzles for consumers: who to talk to, how much to pay, what to expect etc. The list of questions can seem endless.
It was this challenge that prompted the seven legal regulators to join forces and launch a new website in January 2014 called Legal Choices.
The Legal Choices site and the information on it describes the different types of lawyers that people might come into contact with in legal situations, as well as looking practically at those situations. There is factual information about legal services and the role of regulators behind the scenes. There are quizzes and surveys. However there's no legal advice, as our focus is to get people started and on top of everything so they can move ahead.
We think that this is a key point. Visitors can have confidence that the information on Legal Choices is impartial and independent, and, most importantly, is not trying to sell them anything.
It's written from the point of view of someone interested in finding information, rather than looking through legal eyes. Our legal jargon filter is in place to make sure it stays that way. There are also sections to route visitors to some of the 'need-to-know' websites for when people use, or are thinking of using, a legal service. This includes links to the Legal Ombudsman and key publications including template complaint letters.
As Legal Choices enters its second year, we're looking at ways to help people really benefit from the website as and when they need it. This includes building relationships with advice providers in both the online and face-to-face worlds.
On that note, we are really keen to hear from any organisations that provide help and advice to people to talk through opportunities to promote the site and ideas for content.
That could include legal problems that aren't covered on the site, news articles with a legal theme, or guest blogs.
We are available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we also have a Twitter feed (@legal_choices) and a Facebook page (just search for Legal Choices) to help people keep up-to-date with legal news and things we think are good to know. If you're interested, just get in touch.