Dr. Julie McFarlane has recently blogged on the failure of the Canadian bar to provide unbundling. Much of the blog is a discussion of the purported reasons for not availability, and a rebuttal. The post is well worth reading for this. In addition, she highlights how in her recent research, so many litigants wanted, but were unable to find, unbundled services.
Interviews with 253 SRL’s in my recent study (http://www.representing-yourself.com/PDF/reportM15.pdf) expose the reality that despite a decade of provincial Law Societies drafting new rules of professional conduct on limited scope retainers (LSR’s) or unbundled legal services – when lawyers provide services on an hourly basis for specific contracted tasks – lawyers who regularly offer their clients LSR’s are still about as rare as a shooting star on a cloudy night.
The 53% of SRLs in my study who started with counsel but ran out of money to pay the bills – as well as those who could never afford a retainer in the first place – were totally baffled by this. In interview after interview, SRLs described going systematically through the Yellow Pages and calling a dozen or more law offices asking: “Will you assist me with my case by (eg) reviewing my documents/ appearing with me at a hearing/ other task, and bill me only for the hours we agree that you spend on this assignment?” To their amazement, almost no lawyer said “yes”.
A total of just 13 SRLs reported receiving unbundled services. Virtually all sought and /or desired this.
This would suggest that supply is more of a problem that demand. This is in interesting juxtaposition to the ABA survey that appeared to show that most people had not heard of unbunding, and that it is therefore a demand issue.
We need better research on this.