In urging lawyers to promote ‘unbundled’ services, the Legal Services Board is advocating a cut-price ‘half-service’. But practitioners should be wary, especially given the small sample upon which its research was based.
This type of offering is unsuitable for more vulnerable consumers and indeed is probably only good for those with decent written English – and the rare ability to be impartial about their own case.
And how does one explain to a client, ‘yes, we’ve advertised this option, but we can’t offer it to you because you’re not really up to it’?
There are three main concerns. First, if the client cannot cope with the work, that could adversely affect the outcome of the matter. Second, clients may not fully understand the limits of what the solicitor has agreed to do. And third, there is the obvious risk of exposure to negligence complaints resulting from advice based on poor initial information.
The work may be less, the fee will be less, but is the risk to the solicitor any less? Not necessarily.
So why are firms going down this road at all? As one provider reflected, because ‘it is probably the way legal services are going, and if you sit like a dinosaur… you are going to lose out’.
Perhaps, but given the high risks and low rewards unbundling seems to offer, the LSB should not be surprised if many firms proceed with caution.