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Law Society issues practice note for family lawyers who offer ‘partial retainer’ services

Society foresees increase in demand for ‘unbundled’ services in the wake of legal aid cuts

The Law Society has issued a practice note - Unbundling family legal services - for family practitioners who want to offer unbundled (ie partial retainer) legal services to their clients. This practice note is aimed primarily at face-to-face service providers.

The practice note explains that since 1 April 2013, legal aid is no longer available for most private family law matters where there is no history of domestic violence and abuse. Clients of modest means including those who would not previously have been eligible for legal aid are unlikely to be able to afford to instruct a solicitor on the basis of a traditional retainer, but they may wish to instruct a solicitor under a partial retainer for a particular aspect or aspects of their case.

Increasingly, firms are introducing some level of unbundled services as a more affordable alternative to the traditional retainer. This practice note aims to advise practitioners on best practice in relation to unbundling whilst pointing out the potential risks and how to minimise them.

The practice note can be read here.