About Legal Coaching and Unbundled Services

About Legal Coaching and Unbundled Services

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, prepares correspondence, and generally manages all aspects of the case.  Research indicates that not everyone wants this level of representation, and not everyone can afford this level of representation, but may benefit greatly from specific legal services. 

A report of the Law Society of Upper Canada (2010), now the Law Society of Ontario, described unbundling as:

... the concept of taking a legal matter apart into discrete tasks and having a lawyer or paralegal provide limited legal services or limited legal representation, that is, legal services for part, but not all, of a client’s legal matter by agreement with the client. Otherwise, the client is self-represented. Some common services involve lawyers or paralegals

  1. providing confidential drafting assistance,
  2. making limited appearances in court as part of the limited scope retainer,
  3. providing legal information and advice under a limited scope retainer, and
  4. providing legal services at a court-annexed program, or through a non-profit legal service program. 

Legal coaching is a type of unbundled legal service, defined by 2017 National Research Fellow on the topic, Nikki Gershbain, as:

Legal coaching is a type of unbundled legal service, where a lawyer-coach offers behind-the-scenes guidance on both the hard and soft skills of lawyering, in order to provide a (primarily) self-represented litigant with the strategies and tools needed to present their case as effectively as possible in the absence of counsel.

As identified, in Saskatchewan’s Final Report of the Legal Services Task Team (2018), legal coaching differs from unbundling in two key ways:

1) it involves an ongoing relationship for the duration of the client’s matter, rather than providing discrete assistance at limited intervals; and 
2) it involves the client performing the work under the guidance and mentorship of a lawyer-coach. Legal coaching can also work in conjunction with unbundled services if the client wants a lawyer to perform discrete tasks.