There is never a shortage of people both here and abroad to jump on anything that suggests ABSs are a waste of time/dangerous/anti-lawyer/anti-justice or whatever, and a report that came out as part of the Law Society of Upper Canada's ABS debate last week is evidence of that.
The article linked to below demonstrates the debate it sparks, which of course is fine, but I must confess to shaking my head at the glee with which the anti-ABS brigade receives anything that appears to support their cause - frankly, given that this report was simply based on a literature review, it doesn't really deserve the attention it has received.
I imagine I am seen as a great ABS flag-waver, and so someone who on the other side of the fence would take against research like this with equal enthusiasm. I'm not, in fact, and Legal Futures has led the way in reporting problems that some ABSs have faced. But equally I believe that the way legal services are delivered can be improved (my current experience of moving house tells me that) and if ABSs help achieve it, then fine.
Remember, ABS is a means to an end, not an end in itself; nobody's forcing anyone to do it. Equally it is fair to note that it is too early for the evidence to point in any direction. That means there's no evidence to say that ABSs are a bad thing.
Specifically on the access to justice point raised by the research, it strikes me that Jordan Furlong is (as usual) correct when he suggests that in this case, access to justice has been defined too narrowly. And access to justice hasn't been reduced...
While a new study commissioned by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association has poured cold water on the outcomes of alternative business structures in Britain and Australia, critics say the report’s narrow criteria for measuring the results misses other potential benefits of new ways of offering legal services.