The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has revealed in a new report that as many as one in ten legal advice agencies are likely to close this year.
The report by Ipsos Mori, based on telephone interviews with 718 agencies, found that more than half of the respondents questioned (54%), were struggling with the cuts in legal aid and that many had made major changes to their organisation.
Researchers said organisations that currently or previously held a legal aid contract, which tended to be the larger and longer established agencies, were more likely to agree that they needed to adapt.
A significant minority of the not-for-profit groups that responded (8%) had introduced fee-charging for some of their services, while a similar-sized group had reduced the geographical area they served.
Looking to the future, 42% said they were likely to increase the number of services and 15% said they would expand into new areas of law.
However, 23% said they were likely to reduce opening hours and 13% said they would most likely merge with another organisation, while 10% said they were likely to close altogether.
The report uncovered a high level of uncertainty, with 39% of agencies saying that they were uncertain of their funding for legal advice during the financial year 2015/16. The changes to funding for legal advice firms seem to be driving some organisations into other areas of law. However, the closure of some legal advice providers means that some areas may see a decline in the availability of low-cost legal assistance.
Legal practices that are looking for ways to develop their firms and increase their revenue to ensure survival may find it helpful to discuss their options and financial issues with professional advisers that specialise in this area. For more information about how Milsted Langdon can help you, please contact us.