|Report:||Legal Capability for Everyday Life Evaluation Report|
|Report commissioned by:||Lisa Wintersteiger, Law for Life|
|Report author:||Liz Mackie, The Gilfillan Partnership|
TWO: EVALUATION FINDINGS
2.1 Improving individual legal capability
The project aimed to improve the levels of legal capability of the participants. The intended outcome was that learners would be enabled to cope with the law in their everyday lives by improving their ability to deal with common law-related issues and situations. This section reports the findings from the before and after questionnaires for each of the 13 evaluation indicators established for the four legal capability matrix domains. The data for all indicators are presented in Annex Three.
Domain 1: Recognising and framing the legal dimension of issues and situations
Indicator 1: How confident are you that you understand your legal rights and obligations?
Participants were asked to rate their confidence in understanding their legal rights and obligations on a scale from Not at all confident to Very confident. A response of Not at all confident has been given a score of 1 and Very confident has been given a score of 5. Higher scores therefore represent increased levels of confidence, with 5 being the maximum confidence score. The average confidence rating on this indicator increased from 2.7 before the course took place to 4.4 once the course was completed. This is a 63 per cent increase in the average confidence rating, demonstrating a great improvement in participants’ confidence in understanding their legal rights and obligations. Indicator 2: Have you ever had to deal with a law-related issue?
The question of whether participants had ever had to deal with a law-related issue is an indicator of understanding or recognition that many everyday situations can be law-related. Understanding of this increased significantly for the course participants.
Before the course took place, just over half of participants (56%) agreed that they had previously dealt with a law-related issue. After taking part in the course, almost three quarters (73%) agreed that they had previously dealt with a law-related issue. Of all respondents, the participants from Attend/DLS were most likely to say that they had previously dealt with a law-related issue, both before and after the course took place. Indicator 3: Do you understand the difference between civil and criminal law?
The results show a great increase in understanding of the difference between civil and criminal law, from just over half of participants (56%) responding positively before the course began, to almost all (96%) responding positively after taking part in the course.
Domain 2: Finding out more about the legal dimension of issues and situations
Indicator 4: What sources of information would you use to find out more about a lawrelated issue?
Before taking part in the course participants were, on average, able to list fewer than two sources of information. This increased by the end of the course to an average of 2.3. The most frequently mentioned source of information, both before and after the course took place, was an advice centre, which is unsurprising given that all participants were recruited on to the course by local advice centres. The responses to this question after the course had taken place show a much greater range than those given before, and include several that did not appear at all in the before questionnaires, such as the local authority ombudsman and the Advice Now website.
Indicator 5: When you are deciding what sources of information or advice to use about law-related issues, how important are each of the following to you? [cost, access, impartiality, recommendation]
There were no changes on this indicator between the before and after stages. At both stages, the great majority of participants (88% to 94%) rated each element (cost, access, impartiality, recommendation) as either Important or Very important. Indicator 6: How confident are you that you know when you need to get expert legal help to deal with a situation?
Participants were asked to rate their confidence in understanding their legal rights and obligations on a scale from Not at all confident to Very confident. A response of Not at all confident has been given a score of 1 and Very confident has been given a score of 5. Higher scores represent increased levels of confidence, with 5 being the maximum confidence score.
The average confidence rating for this indicator increased from 3.0 before the course to 4.5 at the end of the course. This is an increase of 50 per cent in the average confidence rating, indicating that participants became far more confident that they would know when to get expert legal help. Indicator 7: Do you agree with this statement: “If I had a law-related issue that I needed help to deal with, I would know where to get advice.”? Participants were asked to rate how strongly they agreed with this statement on a scale from Strongly disagree to Strongly agree. A response of Strongly disagree has been given a score of 1 and Strongly agree has been given a score of 5. Higher scores represent greater agreement with the statement, with 5 being the maximum agreement score.
The average agreement rating for this indicator increased from 3.6 before the course took place to 4.4 after the course was completed, indicating that by the end of the course participants more strongly agreed that they would know where to get advice on law-related issues
Domain 3: Dealing with law-related issues
Indicator 8: How would you rate your ability to deal with the law-related issues that
you have experienced in the past?
For this question, participants were asked to score themselves on a scale of 1 to 10, were 1 means Terrible and 10 means Excellent. There was virtually no change in the score that participants gave themselves before and after the course regarding how well they had dealt with law-related issues in the past. The average before rating was 6.2 and the average after rating was 6.1. This suggests that nothing that they learned during the course prompted participants to re-evaluate the way that they had previously dealt with law-related issues. As this was not an objective of the course, the result is unsurprising. However, it is surprising that the score for this indicator is so high. It would be expected that people who are taking part in a PLE course would give themselves fairly low scores for their previous dealings on legal issues. The scores for this indicator are skewed by the unusually high ratings from the Paiwand participants; three of the five Paiwand respondents to this question gave a rating of 10. None of the nine respondents from Attend/DLS or the three respondents from Community Links gave a rating higher than 9. This raises questions about the reliability of the responses on this indicator, which are discussed in Section 2.4 of this report.
Indicator 9: How would you rate your ability to deal with the same issues if they happened again in the future?
For this question, participants were asked to score themselves on a scale of 1 to 10, were 1 means Terrible and 10 means Excellent. The question of how they would deal with the same issues in the future shows a significantly increased score after the course took place. The average before rating for this indicator was 6.9. This increased to 8.8 by the end of the course; an increase of 28 per cent in the average rating. This significant increase indicates that participating in the course increased people’s confidence in their ability to deal with legal situations in the future.
Several examples of this emerged while the courses were taking place. Some participants in the later sessions reported that since being on the course they had started to tackle legal situations on their own. They reported taking on law-related issues ranging from returning faulty goods to retailers to dealing with employment problems. They felt that these were situations where they would not previously have known what to do and would have sought advice from an agency or, more likely, not taken any action at all. This comment from an after questionnaire is typical of many that were made:
‘[Being on the course] has equipped me with lots of knowledge that has made me feel more confident about tackling issues in the future.’ [Community Links participant]