The trend towards ‘unbundling’ legal services is gathering pace, with a Yorkshire law firm launching a ‘Pay as You Go’ service for family law clients who will no longer be eligible for legal aid after 1 April.
The scheme will see clients of Oxley & Coward take on some tasks normally done by a solicitor, so that they only pay for advice and professional experience when needed.
With clients being the first point of contact and dealing with documents and administration, legal costs are kept to a minimum.
The firm will charge a fixed fee for representing ‘Pay as You Go’ clients at court. However, there is not a set price structure, with a fee agreed beforehand with the client based on the estimated length and complexity of the hearing and experience of the lawyer.
Family law partner Sarah Scott explained: “With Pay as You Go, we are trying to bridge the gap by offering people our experience on demand.
“Some people will take their case all the way to court and just call on us as the court date looms closer. We are offering a fixed fee for representing pay as you go clients at court, again helping allay fears about costs; but there is no hiding from the fact that this will be a taxing transition for thousands of ordinary people up and down the county.”
If clients opt for the service, they will be given actions plans and guidance on how to run their case.
Ms Scott added: “It’s not ideal, but we’re bridging the gap. Basically, if they see my face, they’re charged, and if they don’t, then they’re doing the work themselves.”
Legal Futures has been tracking the momentum gathering behind unbundling, which also has the backing of Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff as an option worth considering for under-pressure law firms.
Legal Action Group estimates suggest the loss of funding to legal aid providers in Rotherham will be £149,000 – and up to £3m in the county of Yorkshire.