Culture shifts don’t happen easily. They are resisted for various reasons, in part because they are not “business as usual”. Resistance is overcome when people experience the shift. So, in February 2016, A2JBC decided to encourage and support, through an incubation stage, some collaborative initiatives as testing grounds and exemplars of how to be collaborative, user-centred, experimental and evidence-based.
The Unbundling collaborative was one of them.
The purpose of the A2JBC Unbundling collaborative is to improve access to justice for BC families experiencing separation or divorce by encouraging more BC family lawyers to offer unbundled legal services to the public and to connect those lawyers to families who need such services.
The term “unbundling” refers to family lawyers providing limited services, at crucial points in the family’s interaction with the justice system, rather than an end-to-end representation model which is often beyond the means of families.
A2JBC’s involvement with support for an existing Unbundling project that developed a roster of lawyers willing to provide unbundled services and an unbundling toolkit for lawyers. An A2JBC Unbundling Working Group went on to support a successful application to the Law Foundation by the People’s Law School which resulted in a public facing Unbundled Legal Services website in 2019. The A2JBC Unbundling working group then morphed into a new working group focused on measuring the user and lawyer experience of unbundling services to inform how unbundling services can effectively meet the unmet need of families for legal services AND be a sustainable, fulfilling practice approach for lawyers.
The initiative demonstrates what it means to be:
- collaborative, by involving representatives from various parts of the justice sector including family lawyers practising unbundling, self-represented litigants, justice sector organizations.
- user-centred, by designing a public-facing website through testing it with users
- experimental, by trying things out and being ready to change them when the feed-back suggests they need to be changed.
- evidence-based, by pursuing a project to develop a practical method and tool for real time collection of data to inform service providers, innovators, and policy-makers about user experience of unbundling services and how it can be improved. The tool is linked to the A2J Triple Aim Measurement Framework.
The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) is using modern technology to make the system easier to use.
The Triple Aim, borrowed from the health care sector, is a single goal with three elements: improved experience for the users of the justice system, improved population access to justice and improved costs.
We think that A2JBC’s “wolf factor” is that we are aligning justice system stakeholders around a new approach to changing the justice system – an approach that requires a shift in justice system culture.
With an increasing number of self-represented litigants, the process needs to be simplified.
The BC Provincial Court and the website Clicklaw are collaborating to provide one-page, up-to-date summaries of the most useful online resources.