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Solicitors are not usually the preferred first port of call for people facing legal problems, a survey by consumer magazine Which? has found.
Which? surveyed 1,892 people over the age of 15 by personal interview to find out how much they knew about their legal rights and sources of legal advice. This was followed up by a postal questionnaire completed by 531 people. It asked them what they knew about where to go for legal help and what experience they had of seeking such help.
Which? found that more than half of those surveyed, who had potential legal disputes, did not seek advice from any source. Even among those who did seek it, some did not follow it because they "feared solicitors' costs and the legal system'', despite Which? finding that often these fears were unfounded.
People were asked where they would first go for help in three situations: the purchase of a car, a declined insurance claim after a burglary, and an injury at work. For example, they were asked who they would contact if they bought a faulty new car with no warranty. Forty-eight per cent would seek advice from a Citizen's Advice Bureau, law centre or consumer advice centre, compared to 14 per cent who would contact their lawyer.