"Things just got easier for Nova Scotians who want to retain a lawyer for just a portion of a legal matter. Although many lawyers already provide “limited scope legal services,” new clarity and direction in the legal profession’s rules of conduct should improve public access to a broader range of these services."
This means that lawyers in the Province will now be allowed to represent a client for only part of a matter, without the expectation that they are acting generally in the matter or are the solicitor of record.
This so-called ‘unbundling’ of legal services has become fairly common in other parts of Canada and in the US, particularly as lawyers now often find themselves competing with online legal document service providers.
But it's good news for the public because if offers more possibilities for that large segment of the population who doesn’t qualify for Legal Aid and is simply unable to afford the cost of hiring a lawyer to represent them throughout an entire matter. And, as you might recall that, when it came to the issue of applying for guardianship of an adult family member, it was exactly this same situation that motivated me to create the Nova Scotia Legal Guardianship Kit.
The new rules will now allow lawyers and clients to agree on exactly what legal services the lawyer will provide, meaning that the lawyer might be hired just to prepare affidavits or other documents, for example, while the client acts alone in court or the lawyer might attend court only to examine or cross-examine a witness, while the client handles the rest of the matter.
As I said, this really should be a win-win situation for the public, offering access to the legal system to a group of people that have become more and more marginalized, while lawyers are held to the same standard of competence for that portion of the matter they agree to undertake as is always required in any situation of legal representation.
Of course, good communication will be crucial as both parties need to be completely clear and on the same page as to who, exactly, is responsible for doing what, exactly. So should you find yourself considering proceeding in such a manner, please ensure (for your own protection and to avoid any possible misunderstanding) that it is clearly specified, in writing, exactly what the lawyer is agreeing to do and what you, as the client, are responsible for doing yourself.
And as for me, speaking both personally and professionally, I must say that I find this whole concept of "unbundling" very exciting as I look forward to the next phase of my life.