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Kids are too fearty to talk to a solicitor

EDUCATION could be the key to encouraging people to make use of legal advice and representation, a public policy seminar was told in Edinburgh this week.

Around a quarter of the Scottish population have been involved in legal issues - ranging from property ownership, tenant-landlord disputes, employment and consumer issues and accidents - in the past five years. Many people fail to use advice, however, partly because, "they are terrified of the legal system and of judges and courts", according to Hazel Gunn, professor of socio-legal studies at University College London.

Austin Lafferty, the broadcaster and solicitor, has run workshops in Glasgow schools using role play and question and answer sessions. "Nobody is afraid to go to their doctor but they are distinctly unhappy about going to see a solicitor," Mr Lafferty said. "School workshops can begin the process of familiarisation with the legal system. This will put them in a better position to cope with crisis management should the circumstances arise."

Janet Webster,secretary of the Scottish Law Agents' Society, said:

"Education about legal processes is absolutely vital. If you start early enough you can get over this awful barrier, the fear of the unknown. The human face of the legal system can be revealed."

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