What is Legal Coaching?

Legal Coaching is a type of unbundled service where a lawyer-coach works in partnership with the client to offer behind-the-scenes guidance – procedural, substantive and “cultural” – providing a self-represented litigant with the strategies, knowledge and tools needed to advance their case as effectively as possible in the absence of counsel..”[1]

A legal coach is a lawyer who makes it easier for you to represent yourself.

Legal coaching is one way that you can gain access to legal advice and support without hiring a lawyer to represent you from beginning to end of your matter. Like other forms of unbundling, you can work with your legal coach to design legal services carefully tailored to meet your unique skills, capacity and budget. It can cost less, provide you with more control over your matter and teach you skills that are useful in managing life after separation.

Usually, the legal coach works “behind the scenes”, not appearing in court or dealing directly with the other party or lawyers. This means that the lawyer is not “on the record” with the court and you remain self-represented. Legal coaching is often used as an ongoing service rather than a “one-off” task.

What can a legal coach help you with?

Legal Coaching will involve different things depending upon each matter. It may include some or all of:

· Initial consultation to describe your legal problem and identify options available to you

· Strategic guidance about dealing with the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the case you have to meet

· Providing legal advice

· Assisting with legal research

· Guidance through the family court system

· Procedural coaching – helping you understand steps required by legislation or court rules

· Identifying self-help tools that will be useful to you, such as legal information, websites and other resources designed for members of the public

· Negotiation/settlement coaching – both procedural advice and coaching about how to develop a settlement proposal and negotiate effectively (directly or in a mediation process)

· Reviewing, commenting on or drafting documents such as separation agreements or documents filed in court, including court orders

· Hearings coaching – explaining the expectations of a judge or master, how the courtroom works, where to stand, how to address the judge and the other party, how to organize written or spoken presentations

The BC Unbundling Roster lists BC family lawyers and paralegals who provide unbundled legal services. Many of them provide legal coaching services. The Unbundling Client Toolkit materials also apply to legal coaching.

[1] Definition provided by Nikki Gershbain, M.A., LL.B. National Director, Pro Bono Students Canada (on leave); Research Fellow, National Self-Represented Litigants Project, University of Windsor, Faculty of Law