It comes as no surprise to anyone, and especially SRLs, that manoeuvring the legal process is tricky, frustrating, and expensive. “Legal coaching” or working with a lawyer on only some parts of your case, can help to relieve some of the stress and expense that comes with being an SRL. In this blog post we are revisiting Julie Macfarlane’s, episode of Jumping Off the Ivory Tower: “You Drive the Bus- With a Coach in Your Corner” and the concept of “legal coaching”.
What is Legal Coaching?
Legal coaching is a kind of “unbundled legal service”. Instead of paying a lawyer to represent you with the whole of your case, legal coaching is when a when a lawyer or paralegal divides their service into parts, and assists the SRL to represent themselves. Assistance a lawyer may provide includes legal advice, preparing and analyzing documents, advice on settlement, on questioning witnesses in court, etc.
As was brought up in the podcast, people want to be treated as partners in the legal process and be involved in their own affairs. Legal coaching makes this possible because you drive the bus. Getting advice and assistance with some of the processes involved with your case will help you to make informed decisions about your case.
How Beneficial is Legal Coaching?
Marcus Sixta, a lawyer and former social worker, speaks on the podcast about the benefits for both the client and the lawyer. Having a coach on your side could be very relieving as they help you to organize your affairs, help you to navigate the legal process and feel more confident and less stressed.
Legal coaching is also beneficial to lawyers too. It is a common myth that lawyers can’t earn money from doing legal coaching. However, many lawyers implement this as a part of their practice and prove the opposite. As well, legal coaching can be a more rewarding practice for lawyers as they see the benefit of empower clients to handle their own case and increasing legal literacy.
The Tiers of Coaching
Marcus Sixta speaks of his model in the podcast that consists of two tiers of coaching: a legal navigator and a legal coach. While legal coaches are lawyers as they can provide legal advice, legal navigators are likely not as they are just helping you navigate the system.
Legal navigators are paralegals or other legal support staff that can offer procedural information to guide SRLs through the legal process. If you don’t have the funds to pay for a lawyer at their rate for legal coaching, the hope is that maybe you might have the funds to pay for a paralegal at their rate for legal navigation. However, the services would be different as legal navigators would help with tasks such as drafting and editing documents, helping to file documents and others. The best part is that the tiers of coaching/service can work together and complement each other, and the client is given the option as to which tier they would prefer.
Applying Legal Coaching
Leona Harvie, the second guest on the podcast is a former SRL who now works as a divorce coach. A divorce coach like Leona provides services that help clients such as organization and structure, setting goals and tasks, pre-separation, post-separation and mid-separation support, effective co-parenting strategies, providing legal information (not advice) about family law and many others. Leona affirms that clients tend to feel like the services they receive increase, and their legal bills decrease with the use of a legal coach.
The approaches that legal coaching takes are client-centered one and team-based. Legal coaches work with clients and provide information so that they can make decisions on their own and have total control over everything in their case. This allows SRLs to feel more empowered and in control. A team-based approach particularly helps to delegate tasks and utilize each member in areas that they’re needed most and is most cost effective and time effective.
A Publicity Problem
Despite all the benefits of legal coaching and unbundled legal services, publicity is an obstacle that lawyers who offer legal coaching face. Due to lack of public awareness, people tend not to know the term ‘legal coaching’, and so are unable to inquire about it.
As well, in the Atlantic Provinces, the term and practice may not be well understood so lawyers may not be advertising that they offer legal coaching or “unbundled legal services”. That said, if you are an SRL in the area you may consider contacting a lawyer near you and just ask if they can assist you with a discrete part of your case for a fee.
Having said that, if you’re looking for a professional that offers legal coaching, unbundled and other legal services, then check out this directory of lawyers offering unbundled legal services by province: https://representingyourselfcanada.com/directory/
Legal Coaching Resources
If legal coaching is something that interests you or that you could utilize, there are many resources available for you!
The podcast that this blog post is based on- “You Drive the Bus- With A Coach in Your Corner” is an interesting and educational listen that provides more information about the topic: https://representingyourselfcanada.com/you-drive-the-bus-with-a-coach-in-your-corner/
Other information about legal coaching and unbundled legal services can be found here:
“A Coach in Your Corner: Promoting Legal Coaching in Family Law”: https://representingyourselfcanada.com/a-coach-in-your-corner-promoting-legal-coaching-in-family-law/
“Legal Coaching as an Alternative Legal Service”: https://representingyourselfcanada.com/legal-coaching-as-an-alternative-legal-service/
“Canadian Justices Agree: Unbundled Legal Services Make Sense”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NjdC9w-Enw