Legal services are more out of reach than they are accessible, and this is a harsh pill that’s difficult to swallow, not only in Australia, but globally.
The average citizen, for example, without the advantages of high education and acquaintances with experience and legal expertise, will be at a disadvantage navigating the court’s bureaucratic maze of paper works, arguments, evidences, jargons and deadlines.
The implication that a regular person might need multiple degrees, insider connections and money to represent himself in a basic civil dispute is a true display of power play. This lack of access to affordable legal representation serves as a shield for abusive husbands, neglectful landlords and corrupt employers.
Who will hold these bad actors accountable? What about the normal citizen living the normal life who simply needs help?
Legal Help Shouldn’t Be Costly
Although law firms like Rapid Legal Solutions strive to provide cost-efficient professional legal services, the issue with accessibility looms largely for attorneys and firms that receive public funding to provide free legal help to people near or below the poverty line.
The problem, however, is that the income cut-offs are arbitrary a lot of family law attorneys, for example, have to turn down near poor or even middle class clients because they have to go, “I’ll take the case and it’s going to go on for a year and a half and you have to pay me $10,000 upfront.”
Who has $10,000? Probably not the client who needs assistance with property settlements.
… Unfortunately, It Is
Legal service is a credence good, which gives lawyers the leverage to charge higher rates. A client comes to them with a problem, they are unable to proceed with their predicament and they are also unable to assess how much of the good or service they need.
Fortunately, a lot of alternatives, or shifts in the legal market, to say the least, are taking effect to make legal help more affordable, such as online never-see-the-attorney model, DIY law, and on-the-ground community law. Society is doing away with full-service representation, as it is costly.
The primary model advocates are pushing is “let’s see how much lawyer we can afford”, which mostly entails part-lawyer, part-layman, part-computer in varying ratios, with a bit of help from friends and relatives.
Although nobody has the power to change the legal market just yet, this hybrid and non-traditional mode of legal help is bringing costs down and finally allowing non-rich to afford legal services.