Vulnerability, legal need and technology in England and Wales

Daniel Newman, Jess Mant, Faith Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores legal need and legal advice in England and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic. It uses the lens of vulnerability theory to examine the ways in which this crisis exposed pre-existing fragilities between the state and its relationship with the advice sector, and the individuals who experience social welfare problems. The paper commences by exploring Fineman’s vulnerability thesis and its application to those experiencing social welfare-related issues, as well as the vulnerability of the systems operating to give advice. The paper then considers the specific context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on needs, and the ability of the sector to meet these needs. Drawing on policy documents, reports and three case studies from law centres in England and Wales, it discusses the concept of legal need and the realities being experienced. These case studies assist us in being able to critically consider the topics of vulnerability, changing needs and the role that technology is, and can play during the pandemic and beyond. Lastly, the paper points to the need for a critical consideration of the sustainability and format of legal advice in addressing legal need in the post-COVID-19 landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-253
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Discrimination and the Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • legal advice
  • legal need
  • social welfare law
  • technology
  • Vulnerability

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