By Working Group of the Pilot Project
A Working Group comprised of the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Justice, and CREATE Justice (the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Action Towards Equal Justice) at the College of Law have been busy over the last 12 months working with practitioners and the public across Saskatchewan on the Saskatchewan Legal Coaching and Unbundled Services Project. The purpose of the project is to support, enhance, and advance legal coaching and the use of limited scope retainers.
Information is available online to provide information and resources for both lawyers and the public and includes frequently asked questions, a list of lawyers participating in the project, and resources such as a model retainer agreement, client intake, good practices, and a guide for clients. This content will be integrated into the Law Society website in Fall 2021 along with other updates that will help better connect consumers of legal services and lawyers.
The Working Group will continue several actions to advance legal coaching and limited scope services, including delivering a Continuing Professional Development seminar for lawyers in 2022. The project has also included evaluation thanks to the support of the Canadian Foundation for Legal Research.
For instance, during a June 2021 online meeting with 6 of the 58 (10%) lawyer participants in the project, poll questions revealed information about how lawyers are participating and engaging with the project. Attending lawyers indicated they have been taking on files during the project with 17% taking on less than five or more than ten clients while 67% have accepted between five and ten files. Most lawyers indicated they had taken on limited scope or coaching files previously (67%) while 33% began with the project. The majority (83%) indicated they would continue to take these files, and everyone (100%) was somewhat or completely interested in ongoing professional development.
From the public, 24 individuals have participated at this point of the evaluation, and we have learned that more than half (54%) of these surveyed clients found it very or somewhat easy to access unbundled legal services. It was often the client (74%) who initiated the unbundled services. Estate planning, trusts, wills and estates (38%) were the most common legal problem in which unbundled services was used, followed by family law, divorce, custody/access, and support (21%). Most clients (85%) felt the cost of services was reasonable or very reasonable, with only two clients (10%) selecting unreasonable or very unreasonable. Drafting (36.8%) and reviewing (26.3%) documents was perceived as the most valuable service. Overall, 86% of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with the work their lawyers performed for them, and 96% (i.e., all but one client) would consider hiring a lawyer to provide unbundled legal services in the future. The majority of final comments about their experiences were positive:
Data collection for the pilot project remains open until December 1, 2021. Lawyers who are participating in the pilot project and their clients are invited to fill out a feedback form at the closure of a file. Clients and other members of the public who have taken part in an unbundled or legal coaching file can provide feedback on their experience here: https://ca1se.voxco.com/SE/?st=Dxv7xrOs%2ByXhIIaSZhHH64oHXm0JSnbvFhTUEbykxEo%3D