We often speak of litigation coaching for clients as a form of unbundled services, as one of the new frontiers for providing cost-effective legal services. But I’ve also identified the challenges that young lawyers have in developing the practical skills in litigation, especially given the strong emphasis in the system to resolve issues outside of the courtroom.
At the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Canadian Legal Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland this weekend, I had the opportunity to speak in greater depth with some vendors and discovered a product of interest.
Taran Virtual Associations, a domestic legal outsourcing company who provides precedents, templates, and research services, also has a lawyer coaching service.
The litigation coaching is provided to lawyers by a retired judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice,
A highly respected former Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has joined TVA’s Legal Outsourcing Network. He is ready to review your submissions, hear your argument, and opine on the law and your chance of success before you make your appearance in court. His 20 plus years of experience on the bench can be harnessed on demand. (For example, he recently reviewed our client’s factum and provided suggested changes for under $2,000.)
The service has been available for some time, but it’s not one I’ve heard a great deal about from my colleagues. The opportunity to review oral or written submissions in front of an experienced judge is a cost-effective and low risk alternative to learning through trial by fire, and is a better way to protect client interests.
What may prove challenging with this service is justifying this as a disbursement to a client. Most clients expect lawyers to be fully proficient in all aspects of practice, even if a lawyer has been called for a day. In reality we know that skills are continually developed over a lifetime, and we all improve on our legal knowledge and skill sets through continuing education and training.
Judge-reviewed litigation training may be used as a way to mitigate risk of solicitor negligence claims. A judge can point out the flaws of a legal argument, or suggest how it can be improved. If a client refuses to modify the approach regardless, the service can be used to demonstrate that a lawyer has approach the file with competence and thoroughness. A judicial review can also lend credibility to the litigation strategy employed by counsel.
Cost-sensitive clients who look to hire junior or mid-level lawyers should understand there is a corresponding trade-off in litigation experience. A disbursement of a couple thousand dollars to benefit from the experience of the bench in my opinion a reasonable way to address any skills shortcomings and improve or fine tune a litigation approach.