England and Wales Look to Further Reach of Unbundled Legal Services
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the largest regulator of solicitors and law firms in England and Wales, recently published a report that examines the potential of unbundled legal services to improve access to justice.
Unbundling involves dividing the tasks of a legal service between providers like lawyers and their clients, which can reduce costs and empower people with more control over their cases. According to the report, law firms that offer unbundled services have experienced various benefits, including attracting more clients and providing flexible and affordable services. “Some consumers told [the SRA] they would have not engaged a legal service provider had [unbundling] not been available.”
To bolster both the awareness and availability of unbundled legal services, the SRA plans to:
- Work with other agencies and charities to ensure consumers know to ask their legal service provider about unbundling, where appropriate.
- Develop a better understanding about these services among insurers and provide them guidance and support.
- Develop guidance for law firms to consider when providing unbundled legal services.
- Demonstrate how technology can advance the practice of unbundling.
- Explore an alternative to the term “unbundling” to help increase understanding of these services for both the public and legal service providers.
Overall, the SRA’s report reveals that consumers who have used unbundled services are likely to use them again, with satisfaction levels comparable to those using traditional services. Stateside, unbundled legal services continue to be an important piece of the puzzle for the growing number of self-represented litigants navigating the civil justice system. IAALS has launched various resources to facilitate the adoption of unbundling, including reports with best practices and a resource center with models of collaboration, strategic plans, and resources for various stakeholders.
Unbundled legal services have the potential to enhance access to justice and provide both new and established lawyers with an innovative business model for better serving their clients. By embracing unbundling, legal professionals can contribute to a more accessible and inclusive justice system.