LIMITED LEGAL SERVICES · INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS · PARTICIPATING LAWYERS
ABOUT THE PROJECT · INFORMATION FOR LAWYERS · EVALUATE THE PROJECT · CONTACT US
Join the Project
The Limited Legal Services Project is open to all Alberta lawyers who are prepared to provide limited scope or unbundled legal services. Although the project focusses on family law, being the area of greatest need, all lawyers are welcome to our team. There is no cost to join the project, and new lawyers can join at any time.
What you get
Participating lawyers will receive a brief introductory training session on providing limited legal services and access to the project resources found below, including:
a model retainer agreement
best practices and recommended practices
frequently asked questions
legal and academic articles on limited scope services
Most importantly, the services of participating lawyers are promoted on this website and through the registry of lawyers providing limited legal services maintained by the National Self-Represented Litigants Project.
What you do
We ask that you recommend working on a limited scope basis to current and prospective clients whose circumstances are suitable for limited scope work. Ideally, we would like you to take at least one file on a limited scope basis every three or four months, however this is not a requirement of participation in the project. Ultimately, the client and the nature of the client's problem will dictate whether limited scope work, versus a full retainer, is appropriate.
You will provide your services on limited scope files at your usual rate, whether hourly or flat. No discount or other consideration is required.
At the conclusion of each limited scope file, we ask that you complete a short online survey that will take no more that five minutes of your time, and probably less. We will also ask you to provide your client with a link to a separate, short online survey. Every four to six months, we will ask you to complete a slightly longer survey about your overall experience with, and impression of, limited scope work.
The surveys are completely anonymous. Neither you nor your client will be identified from the data we collect, and you cannot and will not be identified as your client's lawyer. All data are stored securely and confidentially by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family and will only be expressed in aggregate format.
To join the project or for additional information, please contact Rob Harvie QC or John-Paul Boyd.
The following are a variety of resources that have been assembled for the use of lawyers volunteering with the Limited Legal Services Project, and anyone else with an interest in providing limited scope or unbundled legal services. Additional quality resources are available in the Family Law Unbundling toolkit developed by MediateBC and hosted on the website of Courthouse Libraries BC.
We expect these resources to grow and develop over the life of the project. If you have any resources which should be added to this collection, please contact Rob Harvie QC or John-Paul Boyd.
The following resources can be downloaded by clicking the links provided. To save a particular document rather than loading it within your browser, right-click and select save linked file or save link as.
Project training resources
Introduction to the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project: Webinar
Law Society of Alberta
Recording of the webinar provided by Rob Harvie QC and John-Paul Boyd introducing the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project on 10 March 2017. (50 minutes)
Introduction to the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project: PowerPoint
Download: PDF · PPTX
PowerPoint slides from the webinar provided by Rob Harvie QC and John-Paul Boyd introducing the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project on 10 March 2017.
Professional and ethical considerations
Code of Conduct
Law Society of Alberta
Excerpts from the Code of Conduct and commentary on limited scope work.
Law Society of Alberta
Excellent article by Nancy Carruthers, law society practice advisor, on the ethical issues involved in limited scope retainers.
Model retainer agreement
Model Retainer Agreement
Limited Legal Services Project
Download: PDF · DOCX
Model retainer agreement prepared by the Limited Legal Services Project. This agreement is a template that must be adapted to the specific circumstances of the client, the services being provided and the problems being addressed. Volunteer lawyers are not required to use this model agreement.
Practice guides and guidance
The Limited Scope Retainer
Canadian Bar Association Alberta
A good, wide-ranging discussion of the opportunities and challenges offered by limited scope work in Alberta, with contributions from Justice Jerke, Justice Marriott, Marie Gordon QC, Rob Harvie QC, Nancy Caruthers, Julie Macfarlane and others.
Client Intake Guide
MediateBC, Harvie, Boyd
General guidance on client intake in limited scope matters. Includes a list of factors to consider and questions to ask in assessing whether the particular issue you are being asked to handle is appropriate for a limited scope retainer.
Best Practices for Unbundling
MediateBC, Harvie, Boyd
A list of professional and practices considerations for Alberta family law lawyers providing limited scope services.
The Nuts and Bolts of Unbundling
A broad, detailed resource for lawyers providing limited scope services prepared by Julie Macfarlane and Lidia Imbrogno of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project.
Unbundling FAQs for Lawyers
A list of frequently asked questions and their answers, prepared by Rob Harvie QC based on FAQs originally prepared by MediateBC.
Limited scope work in the media
Top Judges Push for Unbundled Legal Services
Article by Ann Macaulay on the work of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project, unbundling and the support for unbundled services offered by the bench.
Introducing the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project
Download: PDF · link
Article by John-Paul Boyd on the Limited Legal Services Project, published on Slaw on 20 January 2017.
Need a Lawyer but Don't Qualify for Legal Aid? Project Aims to Slash Fees for Albertans
Article by Allison Dempster on the Limited Legal Services Project, published on CBC's news website on 19 April 2017.
Materials for your office and your clients
Guide for Clients
Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, Harvie
A guide for clients about the opportunities and challenges of limited scope work, and when a limited scope approach may not be best for a particular legal problem, suitable for distribution by participating lawyers.
A poster describing the Limited Legal Services Project aimed at clients, and intended for distribution by lawyers and legal clinics. This handsomely-designed 8.5 x 11" colour poster will brighten up any work space or waiting area.
A brochure about the Limited Legal Services Project aimed at clients, and intended for distribution by lawyers, legal clinics, court staff and other justice system stakeholders. If you're a project lawyer, we will send you a number of brochures by post; we encourage you to please print extra copies for your reception are as well as local courthouses and legal clinics.
Frequently Asked Questions
This section addresses common questions about the Limited Legal Services Project. It will be updated from time to time as the need to clarify project resources and processes arises. Please send questions to John-Paul Boyd at email@example.com.
Joining the roster
How do I sign up?
Easy. First, send a photo of yourself and a short, three- to four-sentence bio to John-Paul Boyd at the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family. Second, go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/B9SS862 and tell us about the areas of law in which you'd like to provide limited scope services and the sorts of specific services you'd like to provide. Be sure to fill out the identification questions at the end so we know to whom your responses belong. Third, watch the introductory video for an overview of the project, information about how we'll be collecting data and a description of the very limited things we're going to ask you to do as a participant in this proect. Within a week, your information will be posted to the project roster and you will receive a pack of business-card sized survey reminders to give to your clients when you finish a limited scope file.
Is the project open to articling students?
No, not at this time. However, the data collection period runs until September 2018, and you can participate in the project at any time between your call to the bar and then.
Do I really need to watch the introductory training video?
Yes. The video is informative but relatively short. In addition to discussing the nature of limited scope work, the video describes the very modest requirements of your participation in the project, and helps us to ensure that all roster lawyers have a common baseline understanding of limited legal services and the project.
Completing the lawyer surveys
When do I complete the short lawyer survey?
You should complete the short lawyer survey when your work on each limited scope retainer is concluded, while the matter is still fresh in your mind. Please don't wait until you close your file.
Where do I find the survey?
The short lawyer survey is at www.surveymonkey.com/r/LLS_LAWYER. We will send you a link to the longer lawyer survey by email, once every four to six months
Do I complete the survey after each file? What if I do a lot of them?
You should complete the short lawyer survey when your work on each limited scope retainer is concluded, whether you do one limited scope file every three months or every three days. This survey tracks issues like the area of law, the nature of the services provided and the amount charged, as well as your satisfaction with the file and the work performed.
When do I complete the survey if I do more work for the client?
For most clients, you will complete the short lawyer survey when the work you initially agreed to perform is finished. If you agree to do more work and amend your retainer, you will complete the survey when the additional work is also finished.
Communicating with the client about the client survey
When should I tell the client about the client survey?
Ideally, you should first tell the client about the client survey when discussing the possibility of handling the client's matter on a limited scope basis. Whether you do this up front or not, please tell the client about the importance of completing the client survey when your work on the matter is concluded, either in person or in your summary reporting letter. Please provide the client with either a link to the survey or one of the survey reminder cards you have received.
What should I tell the client about the client survey?
First, please reassure the client that his or her response to the survey is voluntary and anonymous and that the client's responses won't be linked to or associated with your responses. We will not use your survey to identify your client, nor your client's survey to identify you. Second, please tell the client that the information the survey collects is critically important for the success of our project, and thirdly please tell the client that he or she may enter a monthly draw for a $100 prepaid Visa gift card for completing the survey.
Why aren't the project resources accessible only to participating lawyers?
We decided to make these resources available to participating lawyers and clients alike for the sake of transparency more than anything else. There's nothing confidential about these materials, nothing in them that reflects badly on participating lawyers and nothing that couldn't or shouldn't be shared with clients. We also believe that it's important to make these resources as widely-available as possible to promote access to justice in Canada and to help anyone interested in replicating or repurposing this project elsewhere.
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