“Many parties to the trial choose to represent themselves because they feel they don`t need full legal representation from a lawyer, or they can`t afford it. Even the parties represented in the trial may not earn enough to hire a lawyer, but earn too much to get cost assistance. Recognize that unbundled legal services are not suitable for all lawyers, clients or legal issues: in addition to the comments set out in the provisions of Rule 3.2-9, limited representation is generally not appropriate where a client`s ability to make reasonably considered decisions in relation to the issue or representation is compromised by minorities, a mental disability or for other reasons. According to that comment, “a lawyer who is invited to provide limited legal services to a client with a disability should in any event carefully consider and assess how, in the current circumstances, it is possible to provide those services competently”. Lawyers should be careful when providing unbundled services to clients who are or may be disabled. An agreement to provide legal services to a limited extent does not exempt a lawyer from the duty of competent representation. Accordingly, before accepting a limited scope, the lawyer must carefully consider whether it is possible, in the current circumstances, to provide these services competently. As with any repairer, the lawyer must take into account the legal knowledge, skills, rigour and preparation reasonably necessary for representation (r. 3.1-2 [7A]).
This assessment should be carried out on a case-by-case basis. Limited legal services have been available for many years in many areas of practice in Ontario. In recent times, there has been more interest in them and, now that they are seen as a possibility, they are questioning access to justice issues, particularly in family law. Law Society collaborated with Mediate BC on its Family Unbundled Legal Services Project to develop a family law toolkit that includes, among other things, model retainer agreements. The toolkit is now available on the Libraries courthouse website. The Family Unbundled Legal Services Project receives $60,000 from the Access to Justice Fund established by the Law Society with the BC Law Foundation. This article describes the professional obligations of a lawyer when considering providing unbundled legal services under Limited Scope Retainers and draws lawyers` attention to practical resources to help them provide such services. . .