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Raising awareness around limited scope services

The Family Law Limited Legal Service Scope is conducting an Ontario research survey and seeking input from family law professionals.

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To address the access to justice crisis in family law cases, lawyers are have been providing different types of legal services for their clients, such as unbundling and limited legal services. But how much do the stakeholders in our justice system know about them? Self-represented litigants, in particular, are not always aware of the availability of more accessible programs and services that can help them remedy their legal problems.

It is why we launched the Family Law Limited Legal Service Scope (FLSS) project – to improve access to family justice by providing the public with more choices about what they need to help them in their family cases. The project is intended to increase the capacity of the family bar to provide unbundled, non-traditional, and limited legal services to the public who are unable to afford (or, less frequently, not prepared to pay for) traditional, full-service legal representation.

Through these services, litigants can benefit from more affordable, high-quality legal assistance to help them make informed decisions about the significant legal issues they face and to better participate in the family justice process. It will also help reduces their stress and isolation, two of the main challenges experienced by self-represented litigants.

We also want to stimulate demand by increasing awareness of the value and availability of these services. And so, our education efforts are directed at the judiciary, mediators, Legal Aid Ontario staff and trusted intermediaries, as well as the public.

Finally, we need input from the family law community, and therefore ask you to complete this online confidential survey. To effectively evaluate this project, the researchers will be interviewing lawyers, judges and clients in Ontario about their perceptions of the advantages and value of these types of services, as well as its limitations and how service delivery can be improved.

The Family Law Limited Legal Service Scope project is the result of an unprecedented collaborative effort of the Ontario family justice community. The project has an advisory committee chaired by Tami Moscoe, senior family counsel at the Ontario Superior Court. Membership includes representatives of the Ontario Bar Association; the Federation of Ontario Law Associations; the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts — Ontario Chapter; The Advocates’ Society; and the Family Lawyers Association.

While the Ontario project is unique, there are many lawyers who already provide these types of services. If you have already completed the survey as a result of being part of the project, we thank you for your time.

If you are not part of this unique project, the research team (Dr. Rachel Birnbaum & Professor Nicholas Bala) invites lawyers across Canada who have undertaken this type of work in family cases or are considering doing so to complete this online confidential survey.

The results of the research will be published. This research will help improve access to family justice by providing greater access to affordable legal services. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Dr. Birnbaum.