This is a tool that will allow the public to obtain what they want and in a manner that they can afford. I believe that such models should be encouraged so that Ontarians can determine
There is a growing sea of unmet legal needs that could be partly served by new legal “products”. The LSO has a role to play to support licensees’ delivery of unbundled services and limited-scope retainers. Practitioners need more guidance and assurance of professional flexibility in order to offer more creative and economical service offerings. The regulatory silence on this point hampers our service to the public.
This is a major area that LSO is behind in helping its members. There should be more LSO assistance in developing acceptable forms, policies and procedures for implementing unbundled legal services by Ontario lawyers. This should not fall on sole and small firm lawyers to adopt unbundling on a trial and error basis. LSO needs to give its members example methods to easily deliver unbundled legal services. If there are court challenges on methodology, then LSO and LawPro should be in court to support the lawyers using LSO approved methods.
I believe this issue requires detailed and sober consideration. I firmly believe that the burden of proof is on those seeking potentially far-reaching changes to legal practice, particularly if they would be irreverisible. I believe that I am amenable to persuasion and look forward to reviewing all the evidence in detail.
This is an important area of access to justice. But the LSO also needs to ensure that lawyers’ retainers are properly delineating the scope of legal services being provided to ensure that client’s expectations are being met, and that lawyers are not being exposed to greater liability.
The biggest barrier to unbundling legal services and making a la carte legal services accessible to a broader swath of the public is lawyers’ legitimate fear that if they do not have control of all aspects of the file, they can be held responsible and liable for things they have not been retained to handle. If the unbundling project is to continue this fundamental problem has to be addressed.
Whatever the reason, there has been a growing focus on making the legal system more accessible to self-represented litigants—whether they can’t afford an attorney or prefer not to have one. As it relates to access to justice, I see ULS as a forward thinking approach. It can, and should be about helping litigants to help themselves.
Unbundled services have the potential to assist with current Access to Justice issues in the legal system. Studies have shown that offering this type of service may greatly assist those who are trying to navigate the complex legal system on their own (and I have seen, through my work as a Trustee of the Law Foundation of Ontario, how legal organizations that offer this service can greatly impact A2J). The LSO, as a regulator, has a role in supporting and assisting lawyers who might offer such services to ensure that client’s expectations and understanding of unbundled services are clear, and that needs are appropriately met. There is some excellent work being done on this issue, and I have been monitoring research and initiatives on this issue, as A2J is a particular concern of mine. Benchers need to be informed and ready to address this issue as creative solutions to the A2J crises are needed.
I support them. They provide opportunities for many younger lawyers to gain access to files and they provide many clients necessary and lower cost options for legal services. I have seen BLS work very well for many years at Pro Bono Ontario with the thousands of clients I have served there.
Unbundling of services appears to be a great cost saving to the client as they only hire you for what they need. there are inherent risks involved with providers that could go over and above what they are hired to do and are responsible for the outcome, clients that do not understand where and when the services start and stop as well as clients that being in documents that are not prepared well enough or usable such as pleadings and they have to be redone with extra costs involved. In certain cases a qualified person can be less expensive and more efficient right from the start.
I support the provision of unbundled legal services. However, this alone is not the solution to access to justice.
I am not a fan of unbundled services. This is not the best path to promote access to justice. We need to continue our work in finding a better and sustainable solution to ensure that the public has access to legal services.
I find it improves access to justice.
The public should have the opportunity buy “select” or “bundled” legal services with the fixed price from a lawyer ie. undertakings Motion – $750.00 plus HST.
I support unbundled legal services and believe the Law Society should work with the bench and the bar to make the delivery of unbundled legal services a reality for clients.
Je soutien le dégroupage de services et je crois que le Barreau devrait travailler avec les avocats et la magistrature afin de rendre cela une réalité pour les clients.
I agree with the unbundling of legal services to allow clients who cannot afford a lawyer for all aspects of their matter to provide for the allowance of focused representation by virtue of a limited scope retainer that will both assist them with representation and respond to systemic barriers marginalizing the public from access to legal redress.
I support the recommendations of the Bonkalo Report that we publicize and promote the ability of lawyers to provide unbundled legal services which will support our access to justice initiatives.
Where the “unbundling” can assist in making legal services more affordable and facilitate access to justice, it should be adopted. Consideration needs to be given, however, to how “unbundling” might give rise to conflicts/confidentiality issues and how those issues should be addressed.
Lawyers ought to be permitted to use unbundling to better serve their clients, in ways that are appropriate for them and their clients.
Embrace and implement AI as much as possible. Make legal services as affordable as possible but ensure the competency of the process
Unbundled legal services is one way to increase access to justice. I support a continuing dialogue and debate on how to do this without sacrificing legal competence or resorting to the over-reach of paralegal services beyond their level of competence. I think we must acknowledge that, with respect to ATJ and legal competence, unbundled legal services, is not the ideal solution, but it may be a workable one. More discussion is required.
While this presents an opportunity for growth, the LSO should do more to ensure that lawyers offering unbundled services are not subject to bar complaints and/or malpractice suits, that go beyond the scope of the limited service provided.
This is another example of empty concepts that have no practical value in the day to day. You simply can’t effectively “unbundle” a trial or complex family manner in a professionally responsible way. To the degree that one might be able to, lawyers are already doing it. “Unbundled legal services” is just a catch phrase used at conferences and CPDs and has little value in practice. Another example of wasteful and costly pursuits of non-issues. Further, it would do nothing to increase access to justice as it will merely equip unrepresented accused just enough to then totally ruin it when it matters without representation. Setting up unrepresented accused for failure should not be aspired towards. You either help clients, or you don’t. If you can do responsibly in discrete elements, then that’s fine but lawyers are already doing this. We don’t need a rule to say “it’s ok to help out people just a little bit and then leave them hanging”.
The LSO should take concrete steps to support lawyers who are interested in providing limited scope services, including by creating best practices and providing training programs. The LSO should facilitate ongoing discussions with the insurer and judiciary to cultivate support for and recognition of these retainers.
This is a easy starting point for legal service providers to provide access to justice. A proper retainer agreement assured minimal liability
Continued efforts must be made to improve both the public and the profession’s awareness of the possibility of providing unbundled legal services in the most cost effective way, and to streamline or simplify the process consistent with liability issues.
Unbundled legal services under limited scope retainers allow clients a cost-effective way to retain legal representation. Unbundled legal services are a means of enhancing access to justice, especially for those who do not qualify for legal aid. However, the LSO must be proactive about regulating unbundled legal services to ensure provision of competent legal representation. Not all matters lend themselves to unbundling of legal services. Clients must be properly informed of the limits of the retainer. A lawyer or paralegal providing unbundled services must know whether and when to advise opposing counsel, the court or tribunal of the limits of the retainer without compromising her client. Licensees require clear direction. Members of the public need information. The LSO, therefore, has a central role to play in regulating unbundled legal services.
I have provided limited-scope retainers to many clients, and see the unbundling of services as an important response to clients’ financial realities (or, indeed, what their actual needs might be in a given scenario). I see it as a valuable tool that should be fostered to make legal services more accessible. Some of such fostering may require the regulator giving greater guidance or increased resources to assist practitioners clarify the scope of their limited retainer, and/or ensure that the limited scope of retainer does not prejudice the client’s needs in such unbundled services.
I believe this issue must be approached with caution. I understand the argument within the GTA is that unbundling will improve access to Justice. However, in smaller and remote communities I believe unbundling will have the opposite effect. If the LSO shears away areas of legal work which create needed revenue for smaller centre and remote practitioners who struggle to make ends meet those practitioners may not be able to continue. The consequence is that the communities impacted loose a much needed point for access to the justice system.
I have heard that this can create problems for lawyers who provide 100% representation to their clients (“bundled service”). 100% bundled service lawyers must contend with unrepresented clients who hire temporary lawyers for ‘this piece and that piece’ of work, such as a particular motion. Once the temporary lawyer deals with the motion he or she is gone. The result is that the 100% lawyer is left to deal with all the clean up. This shifts the financial burden of litigation to the client who has hired a 100% bundled service lawyer. Needs further study.
Clearly, unbundling is a growing feature of practice that we need to engage with in regulation.
I support unbundled services but they can be problematic under current rules for practitioners in smaller communities and firms.
Clients expect a choice in how much of their case they use a lawyer for. It is up to us to work with our clients to explain why we are of value. The LSO, as regulator, needs to better support the bar in the way we provide unbundled services. The current regulations create significant liability in limited scope retainers and discourage them. Changes to allow lawyers to safely provide such services are needed to make them sustainable in a manner that protects the client and the lawyer in a way that is both useful to the client and profitable to the lawyer.
Of course we should have unbundling. Each practitioner should make sure, though, that the limits of the retainer are clearly spelled out.
All avenues to making the delivery of legal services more accessible should be investigated and supported. There is a regulatory vacuum around this and legal coaching that should be filled so legal professionals feel comfortable undertaking the work.
I fully support licensees providing unbundled legal services. So long as mandatory training for licensees is in place that the licensee is required to take prior to being able to offer unbundled legal services to the public.
Unbundled legal services are one part of the answer to unmet legal needs. I support the provision of unbundled services but doubt that, like the many other valuable initiatives, is “the answer”.
The LSO has to provide clear guidance on this so that lawyers will feel less fearful and more comfortable using this tool. This is in the public interest.
I support the unbundling of legal services, but only if procedures and protections can be put in place to clearly delineate what is, and is not, to be provided pursuant to a partial retainer. I have concern that having commenced a legal proceeding, the public will be prejudiced if legal services are withdrawn in the absence of the ability of the unrepresented party to proceed competently.
This is important. As a Deputy Small Clams Court Judge, I see how beneficial this is. Many people go to a lawyer to help them draft their claim and once they are prepped, they are very competent to conduct their own trial. I saw that as well in the Human Rights Legal Support Centre which provides unbundled services. The fact is, apart from cost, many people prefer to represent themselves with a little help from a lawyer.
Enabling clients to obtain legal services in a ‘piecework’ fashion is a good thing. It gives clients more options and improves access to justice. We offer block fees and unbundled legal services at my firm and it works quite well for us. However, I do think members would benefit from additional guidance in terms of drafting limited scope retainers and ensuring the necessary disclaimers are conveyed to clients.
Freedom to engage and contract with clients in any manner satisfactory to the Licensee and the client should be encouraged.
Unbundled legal services is one way that we can facilitate access to justice within the profession. I see it as the Law Society’s role to ensure that lawyers who are rendering unbundled legal services are correctly outlining the scope of the service within their retainer agreements with the client. Boilerplate retainer agreement precedents for unbundled legal services provided by the Law Society would be helpful.
I am a supporter of expanding the use of unbundled legal services as a means of increasing access to justice. The fact is that a large portion of the population simply cannot afford legal services, start to finish, and by allowing them to access specific aspects of legal support in an unbundled fashion, we are reducing the likelihood that people will suffer bad consequences as a result of lack of access to legal information or support.
The LSO should continue to support lawyers who are interested in providing unbundled legal services, including by creating best practices and ensuring that these practitioners have access to training and support. I believe that supporting and developing enhanced guidelines for unbundled legal services may increase access to justice
Although I am favorably disposed to the offering of unbundled legal services in principal, I need to learn more about this issue before commenting.
Aren’t lawyers already doing this? For example, client comes in with a Small Claims matter. Cannot afford full representation at a trial from beginning to end, but would like help preparing the claim (or the defence). Would like help preparing its case. Nothing wrong with that. Any steps taken to help clients have access to justice in a meaningful yet affordable way such as limited scope retainers should be continued and enhanced. We’ve been doing it for years… just never gave a fancy name to it.