SRA Pilot on Unbundled Legal Services - the Results


The SRA has recently reported on their pilot for “unbundled legal services”. A link to the report is available here.

At Howden we have been reading the results with interest, as we are very aware of the risks that are involved in the delivery of unbundled legal services.

A key finding in the report is that unbundling has “the potential to increase access to justice as it makes some legal services more affordable”. However it was acknowledged that there are barriers to achieving this. The barriers were identified as:

  1. Lack of awareness regarding the availability of unbundled services
  2. Potential for claims against a firm if things go wrong
  3. PII implications
  4. Inability to scale up due to lack of technology to verify and validate client information – or lack of resources to invest in such technology.

Various strategies were proposed to respond to these issues and they are summarised in the report. With reference to PII the proposed strategy includes working with insurers to “build a better understanding of their perception of risk in unbundled services and what actions firms could take to address those risks, in order to understand whether firms could mitigate any impact on their premiums.

In our view there are no easy or “quick fix” answers to this. When tasks are divided between a solicitor and their client it is inevitable that there is an increase in risk and this is already well understood. There is considerable discussion and helpful advice on this issue on the Law Society Practice Note available here.

We have also recently updated on our own article on this subject. As a broker we are familiar with claims arising from unbundled legal services. Drawing on that experience, our article highlights some points to consider when reviewing this issue within your own firm. Our article is available here.

For those firms that offer unbundled legal services or are considering this option, we continue to urge caution. While it might offer an opportunity to grow revenue, you do not want to achieve this at the expense of your PII that is key to the very existence of your firm.

Jenny Screech

Written by Jenny Screech LLB (Hons)

Legal Consultant, Howden PII