Saskatchewan Legal Coaching and Unbundling Pilot Project

Helping Lawyers
Helping Clients

About


About
Welcome to the Saskatchewan Legal Coaching and Unbundling Pilot Project (LCUP). This project aims to help connect clients with lawyers who offer unbundled legal services and legal coaching.

Many lawyers offer comprehensive legal services, meaning they represent a client from the beginning of the matter/issue, to the end. The lawyer appears in court, drafts documents, and generally manages all aspects of the case.

But having a lawyer handle the entire case is not for everyone. Some people might not want this level of representation, and not everyone can afford this level of representation, but may benefit greatly from specific legal services.

Unbundling (also known as limited legal services) is where you hire a lawyer to handle only part of your case or to do a specific task. For all other parts of the matter, you are self-represented. Some services that are commonly offered by lawyers include:
  • Drafting documents
  • Limited court appearances
  • Providing legal advice
Some lawyers offer legal coaching. Legal coaching is a type of unbundled legal service, where a lawyer-coach helps a person with strategies and tools needed to present their case as effectively as possible.

Unbundled legal services can be an option, but it is not right for every person or every case. For more information, please see the FAQ page and the For Clients page to determine if unbundled legal services may be right for you.

LCUP is supported by The Law Society of Saskatchewan, CREATE Justice at the College of Law, and the Ministry of Justice.

The Saskatchewan Legal Coaching and Unbundling Pilot Project would like to acknowledge John Paul Boyd and the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project as well as Mediate BC. The resources and information provided on the LCUP website were created and adapted from their work in this field.

F.A.Q


Normally a lawyer works on a case from beginning to end. But, with unbundled legal services (also known as limited legal services) you hire a lawyer to handle only part of your case or to do a specific task. If you’ve sold or purchased a house or had a Will made, you might have hired a lawyer to provide unbundled legal services.

A lawyer providing unbundled legal services can:
  • Help you draft court documents that you can file in court yourself
  • Provide legal advice for your legal issue
  • Review settlement agreements or settlement proposals
  • Help you complete financial papers
  • Help you prepare for questioning processes
  • Represent you in court, at hearings, settlement conferences, mediation, and negotiation
  • Coach you to help you represent yourself
You and the lawyer will agree in writing what tasks you are responsible for and what tasks the lawyer is responsible for.
Unbundled legal services are not for everyone, or for every legal problem. It is important for you to think about whether unbundled legal services can work for you.

Some questions to ask include:
  • Can my case be broken down into smaller steps, divided between me and my lawyer?
  • Are there complicated issues that cannot easily be split between me and my lawyer?
  • Are there important deadlines approaching that I can’t meet?
  • Do I feel comfortable and prepared to take on some of the work myself?
A lawyer providing unbundled legal services works on and charges you for only those tasks that you agree to ahead of time. Most lawyers will charge an hourly rate for their work. Some lawyers and/or tasks may be charged on a flat fee basis.

Hiring a lawyer for unbundled legal services is NOT free but it can be a more affordable option because you decide with your lawyer what services you will pay for, which are clearly outlined in a retainer letter.

No. There are other lawyers who do offer unbundled legal services. You do not need to use one of the participating lawyers to be a part of the project. Simply fill in the survey at the end of your file.
No, we can’t. The reason we created the website was so that clients looking for lawyers who offer unbundled legal services can find those lawyers.

Simply go to the Meet the Lawyers page and find a lawyer in your community who works in the area of law you need help in. Call or email one or two of the listed lawyers and arrange a time to meet with them and ask questions about their areas of practice, their style (collaborative, adversarial, etc.), and how they bill for services.

Make sure the lawyers know that you're looking to hire them for a unbundled legal services.
You certainly can, however the lawyer also has to have the time to help with your full case. For most lawyers, unbundled legal services are relatively easy to fit into their schedules. Although full cases can involve a lot more work, you can always ask your lawyer if they can take on your full case.

If your lawyer does agree to take on your full case, you and your lawyer will need to update your retainer agreement to state who is now responsible for which tasks. You may also need to provide a retainer (lump sum of money) to the lawyer.
Normally a lawyer works on a case from beginning to end. But, with unbundled legal services (also known as limited legal services) you hire a lawyer to handle only part of your case or to do a specific task. If you’ve sold or purchased a house or had a Will made, you might have hired a lawyer to provide limited legal services.

A lawyer providing unbundled legal services can:
  • Help you draft court documents that you can file in court yourself
  • Provide legal advice for your legal issue
  • Review settlement agreements or settlement proposals
  • Help you complete financial papers
  • Help you prepare for questioning processes
  • Represent you in court, at hearings, settlement conferences, mediation, and negotiation
  • Coach you to help you represent yourself
You and the lawyer will agree in writing what tasks you are responsible for and what tasks the lawyer is responsible for.
Unbundled legal services are not for everyone, or for every legal problem. It is important for you to think about whether unbundled legal services can work for you.

Some questions to ask include:
  • Can my case be broken down into smaller steps, divided between me and my lawyer?
  • Are there complicated issues that cannot easily be split between me and my lawyer?
  • Are there important deadlines approaching that I can’t meet?
  • Do I feel comfortable and prepared to take on some of the work myself?
A lawyer providing unbundled legal services works on and charges you for only those tasks that you agree to ahead of time. Most lawyers will charge an hourly rate for their work. Some lawyers and/or tasks may be charged on a flat fee basis. Hiring a lawyer for unbundled legal services is NOT free but it can be a more affordable option because you decide with your lawyer what services you will pay for, which are clearly outlined in a retainer letter.
The traditional model of the full-service retainer leaves many people in a position where they are unable to retain legal counsel. Many people can afford to pay something for legal services but cannot afford the cost of the full representation model.

Unbundled legal services (also called limited scope retainer, limited scope representation, a la carte legal services, discrete task representation etc.) is an approach to delivering legal services in which the lawyer and client break down the client’s legal matter into a list of discrete tasks and the lawyer provides legal services for only a portion of those tasks. The client accepts the responsibility for performing the tasks agreed to by the lawyer and client.

Unbundling is not new, and lawyers provide unbundled legal services in many contexts such as giving independent legal advice, providing a second opinion on a legal issue, providing initial consultations, and advising in the role of duty counsel.

Some examples of unbundled legal services include:
  • The initial consultation meeting
  • Providing strategic advice, including various resolution options
  • Drafting specific documents (pleadings, arguments, affidavits, orders)
  • Conducting legal research
  • Appearing in court for one application/hearing
  • Coaching on process, strategy, negotiation or participation in court
  • Representation during a mediation
  • Providing independent legal advice on a mediated agreement
  • Drafting an agreement coming out of a mediation
  • Organizing documents
  • Any other service which might be contemplated as helpful by the client
Many lawyers offering unbundled legal service see it is a benefit to themselves as well as their client. In fact, new research suggests that unbundling is in demand by clients and when unbundled legal services are offered, the results are positive for clients and lawyers.

In his seminal study, Client and Lawyer Satisfaction with Unbundled Legal Services, John-Paul Boyd surveyed lawyers and clients on their experience offering and receiving unbundled legal services (ULS). That survey found that 76.6% of participants were satisfied with hiring a lawyer on a limited scope basis and would not have wanted full representation. On top of that, almost all respondents would consider ULS in the future (96.6%).

Some of the reported benefits include:
  • Reduced Receivables: Because service is limited, it is typically for a fixed price or for a very specific number of hours. This can often be paid for in advance (through full payment or a smaller retainer), removing the stress, expense, and hassle of receivable issues.
  • Business Promotion: Particularly for younger lawyers willing to promote broad availability of unbundled legal services, they may expand their market share by engaging in a service less often offered by more senior counsel, who typically run a traditional retainer practice.
  • Larger Potential Market Share: The number of persons in the middle and even upper middle class able to afford a traditional retainer is a very small proportion of those people. Unbundled legal services provide access to a market which may be largely untapped in the current full retainer model.
  • Less Stress: When providing unbundled legal services, the lawyer's job is complete once their task is completed. As a result, fewer files "follow the lawyer home" after they leave the office.
  • Life Style Control: This type of work is well suited to lawyers who wish to work part-time, particularly for lawyers coming off of parental leave or working into retirement.
  • Increased Efficiency: The current full-service retainer practice means that lawyers are working on a billable hour system, which can lead to inefficiency. Files taken on the full service retainer can also take long periods of time to resolve. Taking on cases on an unbundled basis means that lawyers can efficiently and quickly open, work on, and close files because they are only taking on parts of, rather than the full file.
  • Potential Risk Reduction: Anecdotal evidence suggests lawyers are less likely to be subject to complaint or negligence suits where their client does not see them as "being responsible" for the legal matter as a whole. For example, law suits relating to lawyers providing mediation or collaborative law are extremely uncommon.
  • Contribution to Access to Justice (While Still Getting Paid): Lawyers expanding the scope of their services, by specially offering unbundled legal services are allowing many more people to access some legal services where they might not otherwise be able to. As reported by Dr. Julie Macfarlane, 86% of self-represented litigants still wish to have legal assistance – they simply can't afford it under the current model of "lawyer does all." Unbundled legal services offer a viable source of assistance for the ever-expanding number of self-represented litigants
  • Expanded Empowerment of Clients: Unbundled legal services offer clients the ability to obtain a form of legal service, where they pay for only what they want, and then assume responsibility for those matters they choose to do on their own. This increases clients’ legal literacy and empowers clients to take an active role in resolving their legal matter.  This results in more power to the client and less responsibility for the lawyer.
While it is always advisable to use a written retainer letter, it is essential when providing unbundled (or limited) legal services (Rule 3.2-1A). In order to avoid confusion and future concerns and complaints, both the lawyer and client must be very clear about the scope of the services to be provided by the lawyer. This includes: what the lawyer will do; what the lawyer will NOT do; and, what the client will do.

Visit the resource section to find helpful resources including a model retainer agreement.
One of the greatest benefits for clients is the increase in access to affordable justice. Many Canadians cannot afford to hire a lawyer using a full representation model. Others start out on their legal journey represented by a lawyer, but may run out of money. Many people are either ineligible for “free” legal services through pro bono clinics and Legal Aid, or they have already used up their hours of entitlement. Many people can afford to pay something; they cannot afford the full representation approach.

In addition to increased access to affordable justice, clients also benefit in the following ways:
  • Price Predictability: Unbundled legal services allow clients to achieve price certainty or predictability. They're using fee arrangements that will enable them to know in advance what it will cost and budget accordingly, which can lead to clients receiving increased value for money.
  • Increased Voice: The structured unbundling process provides clients with increased participation and “voice” in the dispute resolution process, which leads to greater process satisfaction.
  • Enhanced Empowerment: Clients experience increased empowerment and autonomy. More and more clients are wanting to be more involved and have greater control over their legal matter. An unbundled practice model enables clients to drive the course of their legal matter, leveraging only those services they need without feeling that they have relinquished control of their matter.
  • Access to Tailored Services: Unbundling can provide clients with the kind of assistance that best meets their underlying goals. Most people want to resolve their issues quickly and effectively and unbundling can include assistance with settlement-focused processes (such as mediation and collaborative law) as well as litigation if needed. They receive services that are specially tailored to meet their needs.
Unbundling is one piece of the access to justice puzzle in Canada. It aims to make legal services more affordable for the public. There are a number of self-represented litigants (SRL) trying to solve their own legal problems. Unbundled legal services offers the promise that by litigants received some legal assistance as opposed to none, efficiency in the justice system will increase.

Offering unbundled legal services gives SRL an option that would allow them to become equipped and produce better arguments, becoming better advocates for their cause. This leads to improved efficiency in both the court and alternative dispute resolution processes while improving public perception of the justice system.
Lawyers providing unbundled legal services have the same duties of competence and ethical conduct as those who provide full-representation services. See the Code of Conduct document on the Resource page. The important sections are 3.1-2, 3.2-1A and 7.2-A

Your obligation to provide competent, ethical advice and assistance is not diminished during the course of an unbundled (limited scope) retainer.
  1. Consider whether unbundling is right for you and your firm. Are the types of matters you handle capable of being broken down into separate tasks with a clear structure to the progress of the tasks and matter as a whole?
  2. Consider your clients and the clients you wish to serve. 
  3. Lawyers have a duty to very clearly outline the scope of their retainer with their client. The Model Retainer Agreement offers lawyers a template for clearly outlining the terms of the agreement. It is advised the lawyer read the agreement, verbatim, with their client prior to signing and to answer any questions fully before allowing a client to sign. No additional work should be done without a written amendment or, better, a further written retainer for those additional services.
  4. Be clear with your client regarding their ability to ask follow-up questions. If you will not be answering further questions about your service by email or by telephone without additional charge, make that clear to the client.
  5. Seek help when you need it. If you need help interpreting the rules in the Code of Conduct, contact the Law Society.
The Saskatchewan Code of Conduct provides:

7.2-6A
Where a person is represented by a lawyer under a limited scope retainer on a matter, another lawyer may, without the consent of the lawyer providing the limited scope legal services, approach, communicate or deal with the person directly on the matter unless the lawyer has been given written notice of the nature of the legal services being provided under the limited scope retainer and the approach, communication or dealing falls within the scope of that retainer.


The further commentary on this provision states:

[1] Where notice as described in Rule 7.2-6A has been provided to a lawyer for an opposing party, the opposing lawyer is required to communicate with the person’s lawyer, but only to the extent of the limited representation as identified by the lawyer. The opposing lawyer may communicate with the person on matters outside of the limited scope retainer.

Unless specifically advised, opposing counsel is free to deal directly with your client. Accordingly, if you wish to prevent such conduct, the onus is on you to communicate the nature of your retainer and its scope to other counsel, in writing.
According to the commentary of Rule 3.2-1A, you must not mislead a tribunal as to the scope of your retainer. As per the definitions, a tribunal includes: “a court, board, arbitrator, mediator, administrative agency or other body that resolves disputes.” Care should be taken to review the Rules specific to that tribunal as to your obligation to disclose a limited legal service retainer. Beyond that – there is no obligation to disclose your retainer to the court or a tribunal where you are not appearing on the client's behalf.
If your client asks you to take on services that are outside of the agreed scope resist the temptation to take those on without entering into a new limited scope retainer agreement. “Scope creep” can lead to misunderstandings and complaints down the road. Confirm any additional services in writing – preferably by a further agreement – prior to engaging in those services.
The best way to avoid a claim is to be proactive.

Please review the Best Practices for Unbundling resource to best practices when offering unbundled legal services.

Using the Model Retainer Agreement as a guide for forming a comprehensive retainer agreement can also assist in reducing potential claims.

Please also see the useful resources developed by LawPRO and the Law Society of BC.




Contact



Please visit our Meet the Lawyers section to find a lawyer who offers unbundled legal services. Please note: The Legal Coaching and Unbundled Legal Services Pilot Project is not responsible for the lawyers involved, the work they perform, or for the amount they charge for their work.

If you are a lawyer looking to participate in the project, please contact Kim Newsham at Kim.Newsham@gov.sk.ca