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New Website: Ontario’s Family Law Limited Scope Services Project

This week saw the launch of a new website for Ontario’s Family Law Limited Scope Services Project. The Project is funded by The Law Foundation of Ontario. Its aim is to improve access to family justice for lower and middle income Ontarians by increasing the use of unbundled or limited scope legal services.

Currently in over half of family law cases, one or more parties is self-represented. The single biggest factor in a litigant’s decision to appear without counsel is the cost of legal services. The Ontario’s Family Law Limited Scope Services Project conducts research and provides information on alternatives to high cost, full-service representation, such as:

  • Limited scope retainers under which clients engage a lawyer to complete only specified tasks while taking responsibility for handling the rest of the matter themselves.
  • Legal coaching where the client navigates their legal issue with guidance from a lawyer.
  • Summary legal counsel where lawyers provide day-of-court assistance for a fee to unrepresented family litigants not eligible for Legal Aid.

The Project’s website provides resources on these options for both family law clients and lawyers. For clients, there’s a directory of Ontario lawyers who offer unbundled family law services. There’s an FAQ section that provides practical information on limited scope services, what they cover, how they differ from traditional legal services and how to work with a lawyer to allocate tasks under a limited scope retainer.

The website also helps lawyers better understand the concept of limited scope representation and how to provide unbundled services. Lawyer resources include a best practices guide, precedent retainer agreement and FAQs.

For more information on limited scope legal services, see

ABA Unbundling Resource Center

Alberta Limited Legal Services Project

Limited Scope Representation Resources (LawPRO)

Unbundling Legal Services (Law Society of British Columbia)

“Unbundling” of legal services (Law Society of Ontario)

 


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Preparing for Family Court – Reliable Web Resources for Self-Represented Litigants

According to Justice Bonkalo’s Family Legal Services Review Report (December 2016), over 57% of Ontarians did not have legal representation in family court in 2014/15. The Final Report of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (pdf) also estimates that 60% of all litigants appearing in family courts in North America are representing themselves.   Continue reading