Innovative project to produce first research on impact of limited scope legal services.
Rob Harvie QC and John-Paul Boyd, Executive Director of the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, today announced the launch of the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project, an exciting new program aimed at improving Albertans' access to justice. Forty-three lawyers, located across the province and practicing in the most requested areas of law, have agreed to provide limited legal services--giving clients the services they want, when they want them, at a price they can afford--for the 18-month period of the project.
Lawyers are normally hired to handle a case from start to finish, which can quickly become unaffordable. Studies show that the high cost of lawyers is a factor in most people's decisions to go to court on their own, and that even middle-income Canadians are often unable to hire a lawyer to manage their legal problems.
Limited legal services, also called limited scope retainers and unbundled legal services, allow people to hire a lawyer for just one or two tasks rather than all of a case. The lawyer might provide advice or an opinion, coach someone through a difficult court application or disclosure process, prepare an argument or an affidavit, or advise on responding to a lawsuit or settlement offer.
Limited legal services are expected to help people navigate Canada's complicated court system, increase the chances that justice will be done and improve people's capacity to respond to legal problems. However, no studies have yet been done to prove that limited services have this effect. The Alberta Limited Legal Services Project will fill this gap in the research. The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family will survey both lawyers and clients during the data-collection phase of the project to learn about the usefulness of limited services and assess clients' and lawyers' satisfaction with legal work provided on this basis.