The Advisory: Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2010

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Several Issues Identified in First Alternate Delivery of Legal Services Report

By Doug Mah, QC, Chair, ADLS Committee and Bencher, Law Society of Alberta

Citizen protection, the unclear definition of the practice of law and the lack of information on the delivery of legal services were among several issues identified in the first phase of the Alternate Delivery of Legal Services project.

The report, titled Alternate Delivery of Legal Services (ADLS) Project: Phase 1 Issues Identification, was prepared for the Law Society by the independent consulting firm Sierra Systems and reports on the range of issues identified by justice system stakeholders regarding the delivery of legal services by non-lawyers.

The Benchers received the Phase 1 report at their meeting on September 24-25, 2009, and have directed that the ADLS project proceed to Phase 2. The Phase 2 Project Plan envisions a comprehensive research component to explore each area of inquiry and will incorporate various research methodologies including a general consumer survey and a survey of the legal profession amongst others. The independent public opinion research firm Ipsos Reid has been retained by the Law Society to conduct the general consumer survey and the survey of the legal profession.

The ADLS project plan, adopted by the Executive Committee in November 2008, envisions a three-year project with six phases. It is estimated that phase two will be the most time-intensive part of the project and will be conducted over the next 10 months.

The Law Society of Alberta recognizes the importance of access to justice for all Albertans and, in collaboration with its partners, including Alberta Justice, is committed to exploring policy options to improve access to the availability of legal services for all Albertans.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Doug Mah, QC Chair of the ADLS Committee or the Project Director, Susan Billington, QC 403-229-4705; or toll free 1-800-661-9003.

The report identifies five main areas of inquiry or propositions to explore in the next phase of the project as follows:

Area of Inquiry Proposition
Access to the Justice System Legal services provided by non-lawyers can have an impact on improving access to the justice system for citizens.
Consumer or Citizen Protection In many cases, users of alternative services are not sufficiently protected or aware of their risks.
Public and Legal Profession Impacts The impact on and response of the legal profession and the public to the increased delivery of legal services by non-lawyers and the role that non-lawyers should play is unclear.
Definition and Understanding of “Legal Services” The definition of legal services is complex and the boundaries and the scope of the practice law are not clear or fully defined.
Lack of Information There is not sufficient and commonly understood information upon which to make recommendations and decisions for change to the current state of the delivery of legal services.

(reproduced from page 24 of the Sierra report)

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