Dear family law stakeholder,

Thank you for taking the time to complete this brief survey. Your input will inform the development of a training program for lawyers interested in being legal coaches. You will not be directly quoted in any materials without your permission.

The Project

The Law Foundation of Ontario has provided me with funding to work with the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) at Windsor Law, to explore the concept of legal coaching in family law.

The Coaching Model

Most members of the profession are familiar with the concept of unbundling, also known as limited scope representation (LSR).

We believe legal coaching is the next natural step in the evolution of the unbundling model, offering practical advantages that build on a number of needs articulated by SRLs in a national study completed by the NSRLP in 2013. Almost all of the 259 SRLs interviewed said that what they wanted and needed was someone in their corner who could provide ongoing support and assistance at key moments in their case.

Like unbundling, legal coaching limits the scope of the lawyer’s involvement to those matters specified in an LSR. However, coaching differs from unbundling in at least three ways:

1. Coaching assumes an ongoing relationship between lawyer and client, from the very start of the matter.
2. The legal coach does not take charge of discrete tasks on her own. The coach guides and mentors the client, building her capacity to take the next step on her own.
3. The client is an active participant in the solicitor-client relationship, allowing the lawyer and client to work as a team. 
For some lawyers, coaching may require a paradigm shift, as it requires a high level of feedback and guidance. Successful coaches will be flexible in adapting to different levels of ability and need, and skilled in building trusting relationships with their clients, enabling them to be more effective self-advocates.

Thank you for your support of this project. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Nikki Gershbain, M.A., LL.B.
Research Fellow
National Self-Represented Litigants Project
University of Windsor, Faculty of Law