About the Pilot Project

Working Group Coordinators: Melanie Hodges Neufeld, Law Society of Saskatchewan, Kim Newsham, Ministry of Justice, Brea Lowenberger, Director of CREATE Justice, College of Law

A small Working Group has been established in Saskatchewan to support, enhance, and advance legal coaching and the use of limited scope retainers through the “Saskatchewan Legal Coaching and Unbundled Services Pilot Project” (the project). The project has emerged in response to Saskatchewan lawyers’ interest in the topic area and out of discussions at the 2013 and 2014 meetings of the Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice, which identified pathways for practicing lawyers to improve access to justice, with limited scope retainers – ‘unbundling’, a topic of that discussion.

The Law Society of Saskatchewan has offered Continuing Professional Development seminars for lawyers on the topic of Unbundled Legal Services. One-day training sessions on Legal Coaching, supported by the Ministry of Justice,were held for the first time in Saskatchewan in March 2018. Lawyers who attended the March 2018 Legal Coaching training expressed an interest in the Legal Coaching service delivery model.

In response to lawyers' interest, the Working Group has engaged in a number of actions to advance this topic in Saskatchewan. A website has launched which includes related practice resources and a list of lawyers who are interested in engaging in legal coaching and unbundling to improve the public’s access to such services. The Working Group also hosted another Continuing Professional Development seminar for lawyers on the topic in October 2019, during the fourth annual Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week.

The Working Group is currently involved with evaluating, reporting, and conducting research related to the project. The Working Group seeks to contribute to a foundation for data on the topic in Canada, which aims to positively impact both legal practice and policy development, as well as contribute to empirically-informed scholarly writing on the topic. The Working Group is grateful to the Foundation for Legal Research for their support in conducting a research study associated with the pilot project.

About Legal Coaching and Unbundled Services

Many lawyers offer comprehensive legal services, meaning they represent a client from the beginning of the matter/issue, to the end. The lawyer appears in court, drafts documents, prepares correspondence, and generally manages all aspects of the case. Research indicates that not everyone wants this level of representation, and not everyone can afford this level of representation, but may benefit greatly from specific legal services. 

A report of the Law Society of Upper Canada (2010), now the Law Society of Ontario, described unbundling as:

... the concept of taking a legal matter apart into discrete tasks and having a lawyer or paralegal provide limited legal services or limited legal representation, that is, legal services for part, but not all, of a client’s legal matter by agreement with the client. Otherwise, the client is self-represented. Some common services involve lawyers or paralegals

  1. providing confidential drafting assistance,
  2. making limited appearances in court as part of the limited scope retainer,
  3. providing legal information and advice under a limited scope retainer, and
  4. providing legal services at a court-annexed program, or through a non- profit legal service program.

Legal coaching is a type of unbundled legal service, defined by 2017 National Research Fellow on the topic, Nikki Gershbain, as:

Legal coaching is a type of unbundled legal service, where a lawyer-coach offers behind-the-scenes guidance on both the hard and soft skills of lawyering, in order to provide a (primarily) self-represented litigant with the strategies and tools needed to present their case as effectively as possible in the absence of counsel.

As identified, in Saskatchewan’s Final Report of the Legal Services Task Team (2018), legal coaching differs from unbundling in two key ways:

1) it involves an ongoing relationship for the duration of the client’s matter, rather than providing discrete assistance at limited intervals; and
2) it involves the client performing the work under the guidance and mentorship of a lawyer-coach. Legal coaching can also work in conjunction with unbundled services if the client wants a lawyer to perform discrete tasks.

The pilot project website links to practice resources for lawyers and information for the public about legal coaching and unbundled services. Part of the public information includes a list of lawyers who offer these services.

Get involved

Saskatchewan lawyers – we are interested in hearing from you. We invite you to contact us to express your interest in the following.

  1. If you would like your name added to the public list as a lawyer who offers unbundled services and/or legal coaching, please email Kim Newsham, Crown Counsel, Family Justice Services Branch, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General at kim.newsham@gov.sk.ca.
  2. If you are a lawyer interested in helping “Saskatchewanize” unbundling practice resources, please email Melanie Hodges Neufeld at melanie.hodgesneufeld@lawsociety.sk.ca.
  3. If you would like to be notified about new practice resources and training events related to unbundled services and legal coaching as they become available, please email Kim Newsham at kim.newsham@gov.sk.ca.

Project news

Saskatchewan Legal Coaching and Unbundling Pilot Project Survey Report (January 2021)

Brea Lowenberger, Legal Coaching And Unbundling Pilot Project (LCUP) Launches Practice Group And Evaluation 
(law.usask.ca/createjustice, Nov. 16, 2020)

Bridget Yard, If you can't afford legal services, team up with a lawyer, says expert (cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon, October 24, 2019)

Jen Quesnel, Pilot project helps Saskatchewan residents cut legal costs by offering legal coaching (cbc.ca/listen/live-radio, October 21, 2019)

Anthony Davis, Saskatchewan hunts for more legal coaches (canadianlawyermag.com, April 22, 2019)

Kim Newsham, Invitation to Lawyers Interested in Offering Unbundled Services and Legal Coaching (lsslib.wordpress.com, February 27, 2019)