New research into quality of unregulated advice for LIPs underway
The extent to which litigants in person use and rely on unregulated advice services, such as McKenzie friends, will be tested in an upcoming research project looking particularly at how forums and social media are used by LIPs to access these services.
Called Linguistic and socio-legal analysis of online forums for litigants in person, the study will explore the quality of advice handed out through non-qualified advisers – such as McKenzie Friends – online help forums and social media boards.
The study will focus on cases relating to child protection and children’s living arrangements and will aim to see if children’s welfare is being put at risk by unreliable or biased information.
Dr Tatiana Tkacukova, a linguist at Birmingham City University who has previously surveyed LiPs in the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre (and who is a Network member) will analyse questions asked by LiPs with the help of specialised software. Professor Hilary Sommerlad, professor of law and society at the University of Leeds and former legal aid lawyer, will examine the advice LiPs are given, who is giving it, and how much understanding they have of judicial processes and legal strategies.
The use of unregulated legal services by litigants in person and their experiences with these services is an important and under researched area, we look forward to hearing more about how the project will develop, and what it finds.