The Failure of Law Societies to Accept Their Duty in Law to Solve the Unaffordable Legal Services Problem

9 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2014

Date Written: August 10, 2014

Abstract

Canada’s law societies have a duty in law to solve the “unaffordable legal services problem,” i.e., that the majority of the population cannot obtain legal services at reasonable cost. The problem has been developing over decades during which years the law societies have failed to act. The problem has caused severe damage to: (1) the population for lack of legal services; (2) the courts by the “clogging” caused by self-represented litigants; (3) the legal profession which is contracting when it could be expanding, in spite of very negative forecasts for its future; and (4) to the funding of legal aid organizations because it is not “politically wise” to provide adequate or increased funding for free legal services for poor people while the majority of taxpayers have no affordable legal services. The theme of this article is that the law societies have not acted because they do not accept the proposition that it is their duty in law to solve the problem, as are the problems created by incompetent and unethical lawyers.

The problem is inevitable because of the method used to deliver legal services. The legal profession uses a “handcraftman’s method” instead of a “support services method.” The former has been abandoned everywhere else in the large-scale production of goods and services in favour of the latter, because of its much greater cost-efficiency. The handcraftsman’s method means that, instead of using highly specialized support services, law firms do all of the work themselves to service all of each client’s legal problems. As a result, no law firm has a sufficient degree of specialization, combined with the necessary scaled-up volume of production to prevent the problem from happening. The difference in the two methods is exemplified by the cost-efficiency of a centralized legal research unit servicing lawyers in private practice who provide free legal services to legal aid clients (poor people). Its technology of centralized legal research has enabled it to produce close to 5,000 complete legal opinions per year, thus saving its government-financed legal aid organization millions of dollars that would otherwise have had to be paid out on lawyers’ accounts for legal research services rendered.

Keywords: unaffordable legal services, law society, rule of law, access to justice, legal research, legal aid, poor people, support services, handcraftsman’s method, government intervention, legal profession, management structure for law societies, proactive steps fulfilling law society duties, legal bills

Suggested Citation

Chasse, Ken, The Failure of Law Societies to Accept Their Duty in Law to Solve the Unaffordable Legal Services Problem (August 10, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2478303 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2478303

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