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Measuring the Effectiveness of Unbundling: A Novel Approach

It is hard to believe that it has been over 3 years since the launch of the BC Family Unbundling Roster. There are now over 175 legal professionals on the list from all over BC.

It is time to assess whether unbundling (including legal coaching) is helping to close the A2J gap in BC. One challenge is that we have little data to guide evidence-based service improvement and policy-making. We need evidence about the client’s experience of unbundling and details of the experience of the legal professionals as well. If legal professionals do not see advantages both for their clients AND for their own practices they will not use or promote unbundling.

The BC Family Justice Innovation Lab[1] partnered with Standpoint Decision Support Inc. to make a proposal to the Legal Aid BC / Law Foundation BC Legal Research Fund. We are excited to advise that funding for Phase 1 is now in place. And we are very grateful for this support.

This new initiative launched in November 2020. It aims to create a user-friendly system to collect and report, on an ongoing basis, the experiences of both lawyers and clients. So, in addition to providing a point-in-time snapshot of effectiveness, it will also create a continuous, evidence-based process and tool to stimulate further innovation.

The approach is also designed to align with the four main ways that Access to Justice BC hopes to achieve a shift in the culture of the BC justice system:

  • User/client centred
  • Collaborative
  • Experimental
  • Evidence-based.

Initiative Overview

Our project manager Matt Sims (Standpoint Decision Support Inc.) created a website to describe the initiative, track our progress and support collaboration and communication.

We invite you to explore the following pages on the site:

  • Overview: an overview of the initiative, objectives, and desired outcomes
  • Project Team: So far, we have 8 lawyers who have agreed to present a quick 5 question survey to their unbundling clients. In addition, four people (lawyers and an unbundling client with experience in unbundling) have kindly volunteered to provide advice and feedback along the way.
  • System Thinking page: Describes in more detail the approach we are taking, what we are measuring, the 5 “dimensions of effectiveness” we are proposing to focus on initially, how this initiative fits with the Triple Aim, AND the questions we are proposing to present to clients (one for each of the 5 selected dimensions).

We are developing a private discussion board for the team to share questions, comments and discussions on topics of interest.

Knowing that we are starting small and taking an experimental approach, we tried to select 5 of the most important measurable dimensions (discoverability, agency, affordability, convenience and resolution) and matching questions for client experience. These can be found at the bottom of the Systems Thinking page. We are working with the lawyer participants and consultants to review and refine these important elements. They will form the basis of the digital tools to collect and share the data.

We hope that these efforts will produce user friendly tools that can be adapted to unbundling in other jurisdictions, areas of the law and new approaches to the provision of legal services.

We’d love to hear from you! Any comments, questions or suggestions are welcome. Please contact Kari.boyle@shaw.ca. Also, please click here if you would like to be informed about our progress.

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[1] Family Justice Innovation Lab Society, incorporated September 2020.

Comments

  1. This is a fascinating and welcome initiative. My one reflection at this stage having taken a look at your “dimensions” on the website is that “affordability” may not be sufficient to measure the economic dimensions. We have noticed anecdotally a number of clients complaining that unbundled services are still in their view very expensive on an hourly basis. Something that captures “value for money” in today’s consumer culture seems important and perhaps missing here?

  2. Thanks Julie. Great feedback and we have heard similar comments from a number of others. We are learning as we go and appreciate all feedback!

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