Tuesday 17 July 2012 by John Hyde

A majority of people are shunning solicitors when confronted with a legal need, according to new research published by the Legal Services Board.

The survey of more than 4,000 people found just 44% of consumers with a legal problem took some form of professional advice, with the rest seeking help from friends and family, handling the matter themselves or simply doing nothing.

Consumers were more likely to go to regulated solicitors in areas such as conveyancing, probate and divorce, but relied on unregulated providers for neighbour disputes and will-writing. Individuals would choose not to seek advice because of time concerns, previous experience, feeling they could resolve it themselves or cost worries.

LSB chief executive Chris Kenny said it was 'troubling' that so many people sought no help for legal issues.

The survey found that face-to-face advice continues to dominate the provision of legal advice, with 64% of consumers meeting their provider at least on the first point of contact.

Less than 10% of consumers negotiated with their provider on fees, although 77% of those that did manage to secure a reduced price.

In a separate report on small businesses' use of legal services, also published today, it was found that many SMEs are reluctant to seek and pay for formal advice, although solicitors are viewed as useful external advisers.

The report noted that accountants, rather than solicitors, are the biggest source of external support, with more than 275,000 qualified professionals playing a role in providing legal advice.

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