Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Unbundled legal services

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The concept of unbundling legal services is still relatively new, but has already been the subject of an important research paper from the Legal Services Board, published in September 2015.

Unbundling is where a package of legal services is separated into parts and the work shared between the consumer and lawyer. An example of unbundling is a consumer preparing the evidence and the court bundle themselves and then directly instructing the barrister who represents the consumer at the court hearing.

The Press release on the research states:

This research paints a picture of law firms beginning to respond to consumer demand and changes in their commercial environment by developing affordable alternatives to full-service representation. It suggests that:

– reduced cost and the opportunity to exercise greater control over the case were the primary reasons why those consumers interviewed chose to unbundle

– unbundling tended to be identified as an option during the initial interview between a consumer and their legal advisor rather than being actively marketed to potential clients. As a result, while some consumers are making savings on their legal bills, this development is not benefiting large numbers of people who are currently put off approaching lawyers in the first place due to cost concerns

– no regulatory barriers to unbundling were identified, but some concerns were raised around assessing consumer capability, giving advice based on limited information and ensuring there is clarity on agreements about the scope of work, and

– members of the judiciary felt that if full representation could not be obtained then, as a starting point, some legal advice and assistance ought to be beneficial. They also echoed some potential difficulties with unbundling identified by providers and felt it important that advice and assistance is given by regulated advisers.

There is a clear indication that the Legal Services Board would like to see unbundling develop further.

The Co-operative Legal Services is an example of a legal service provider who do make clear in their advertising that they are offering unbundled legal services, leaving the clients to choose which parts of the service they wish to pay for. (Of course clients can also go for a full legal service.)

For further details on the research go to http://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/news_publications/LSB_news/PDF/2015/20150916_LSB_Publishes_Report_Into_The_Unbundling_Of_Legal_Services.html

For Co-operative Legal Services go to https://www.co-oplegalservices.co.uk/

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Written by lwtmp

November 4, 2015 at 11:56 am

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