The purpose of this evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of the service in helping clients achieve these immediate and longer-term outcomes, and to make recommendations for service improvement. A secondary purpose was to offer follow-up assistance to clients who may need it.
The evaluation focused on clients who had received legal advice but had not gone on to be represented by Consumer Action. It excluded clients to whom lawyers had given only information or a referral. We considered that surveying these clients would give us the clearest indication of service impact because: (a) they had sought assistance for a legal problem we could help with; (b) our lawyers assessed them as being in vulnerable circumstances and capable of self-help.
This was a mixed-methods evaluation, involving three main methods of data collection: reviewing client records, including demographic data; a short survey sent by SMS to clients soon after they accessed the service; and a more in-depth, qualitative interview with clients 3-6 months on.
We sought to make sense of the data in a collaborative way by facilitating workshops with the lawyers who deliver the service. They considered the synthesised evaluation data and helped to contextualise and understand the picture it was painting. The workshop discussions significantly informed both the conclusions and recommendations of this report.