Legal Help at Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) is a telephone and webchat information and referral service available to everyone in the Victorian community. It also provides a gateway to more intensive services for those clients that meet certain criteria. Calls are handled by both legal information officers and lawyers, with the latter available to provide tailored legal advice to clients who qualify for this service. The focus of this evaluation was the telephone information and referral services provided by Legal Help. Other aspects of Legal Help, such as its webchat, legal advice services and triage functions, were not directly assessed in this research.
The research assessed the value of Legal Help’s information/referral services to clients in the broader context of the Victorian legal assistance sector’s information and service provision. Part of Legal Help’s role is to provide clients with information about, or referral to, other providers or to more intensive support within VLA. As some clients utilise this, as intended, to access more intensive legal assistance, this is not and could not be, an evaluation of the impact of only receiving information/referral.
The service was evaluated on its reach to the community, accessibility to clients, appropriateness of services provided, client experience, actions prompted and client outcomes using three main data sources: information collected by Legal Help staff about 1,061 clients, a survey of 111 of these clients within about a week of the call and a further survey of 85 of these clients three months later.