What does ‘access to justice’ mean in the context of family law? For most people, access to justice means accessing legal advice and services in relation to their family law matter. And, for most people, access to justice means answering the question “Can I afford to hire a lawyer?”
Each year nearly 80,000 Ontarians answer ‘no’ to this question and try to navigate the family court system without legal representation. A recent study has shown that it takes an average of 66% longer to resolve a family law court matter when one of the parties is self-represented (i.e., without legal representation). Self-representation may feel like the only choice for people who do not qualify for Legal Aid, and also feel like they cannot ‘afford a lawyer’ – but fortunately, there’s another option.
Limited Scope Retainers
Accessing legal services is not an all-or-nothing choice between self-representation or hiring a lawyer under a comprehensive/traditional retainer. Cunningham Swan believes that all Ontarians deserve access to sterling family law legal services. That is why we are proud to offer ‘limited scope retainers’ to clients who want assistance with discrete portions of their family law matter. A limited-scope retainer specifically defines the ‘scope’ of work we agree to perform for you, and the amount of retainer required to do that work. For example, you may only want assistance with a particular aspect of your family law matter, such as:
- Receiving summary legal advice about your family law issues;
- Developing an initial strategy for negotiation or commencing Court proceedings;
- Drafting Court documents to begin court proceedings or for a particular step in the Court proceeding such as a case conference, settlement conference, or trial management conference;
- Trial preparation, trial coaching, and trial representation; and,
- Drafting a separation agreement or parenting agreement.
Limited-scope retainers are an important tool used by our Family Group to promote access to justice. We understand that receiving limited-scope services better protects a client’s rights, entitlements, and interests than does receiving no legal services at all. That is why our firm is proud to offer limited-scope retainers alongside comprehensive/traditional retainers to make our services available to more Ontarians.
If you are interested in learning about how our firm can provide you with limited-scope legal services, please contact our Family Group today. We are here to help.