Today I attended the Targeted Legal Services Event, hosted by the Law Society of Upper Canada. At the event, we discussed how unbundled legal services (legal services -usually for a flat fee- for a specific task) could be an affordable option for many people and would address the ever-growing barriers to access to justice.
However, to date, there is very little case law on limited scope retainers. Fortunately, there are precedents for limited scope retainers, like the one from Nova Scotia: http://www.lians.ca/sites/default/files/documents/00045362.PDF
During discussions, Professor Noel Semple suggested that The Co-operative Legal Services could be a model for Ontarian lawyers to follow in implementing unbundled, flat fee legal services. http://www.co-operativelegalservices.co.uk
Unfortunately, the Co-operative Legal Services model would be difficult to implement without access to outside investment, as in the case of alternative business structures.
According to the Law Society of Upper Canada, the currently-permitted structures are:
– Sole practice;
– Partnership, including limited liability partnership and multidiscipline partnership;
– Professional corporations (which must be owned by lawyers and/or licensed paralegals); and
An alternative business structure could include non-lawyer investment or ownership of law firms; firms offering legal services with other professionals; and the provision of do-it yourself automated legal forms.