Delivering Legal Services.
Research shows that many individuals and small businesses in Ontario are now attempting to deal with their legal issues without the assistance of lawyers or paralegals.
In Canada and elsewhere, in family law, most litigants do not use lawyers – recent studies show 70% are unrepresented.
In 2009, the federal Department of Justice published The Legal Problems of Everyday Life showing that legal advice was sought for less than 15% of justiciable problems in Canada.
People with legal problems commonly seek assistance from non-lawyers. The above-noted Department of Justice study (of almost 7,000 adults) found that 42.2% of respondents who experienced a personal injury problem consulted an unregulated source of assistance.9 Employment (35.8%) and housing (33.7%) were the next highest areas in which respondents resorted to non-legal sources of assistance.
In 2009, the Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project found that one-third of low and middle-income Ontarians did not seek legal assistance for what they regarded as legal problems.
A recent study of 259 self-represented litigants in family and civil law matters in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta reported that the most consistently cited reason for self-representation was the inability to afford to retain, or continue to retain, a lawyer.
This research highlights the fact that there are gaps in legal services for many Ontarians. Even middle-income individuals are in many cases not obtaining, or cannot afford, the services of a lawyer or paralegal.
There are two situations in which people tend to seek legal services. They are either looking for help with important but routine issues, such as the purchase of a house or the creation of a will or power of attorney, or they are facing a serious legal problem, such as a personal injury, a criminal charge, or a marriage breakdown.
People are always sensitive to cost. And the more serious the problem, the more legal services are likely to cost. In fact, serious legal problems often cost more than the average person can afford.
For that reason, members of the public may seek services from online service providers such as Legal Zoom, because of cost but also because of their hours, operations, location or client services. People who use online providers are, from the perspective of the legal profession, lost clients. In other words, the existing business structures are not effectively serving the market.
(Alternative Business Structures)