The Purchaser-Supplier Approach in Legal Aid

Appendix B: Comparing the MI and PS legal aid funding models

Features Mutual interest model Purchaser-supplier model
Predominant ideals Liberal legalism Administration
Professionalism Bureaucracy
Social service legal professionalism Efficiency and effectiveness
Legal services for the poor Integrated, access-to-justice approach
Co-operative federalism Compartmentalised federalism
Equal access to courts and lawyers Affordable and appropriate access to legal services
Program culture Centrifugal Centripetal
Collective Atomistic
  Contractual
Emphasises long-term government, legal aid agency and legal profession relationships Emphasises price and outcomes in funder/supplier transactions
Provincial/State centric Funder/purchaser centric
Multi-focus policies (funding, expenditure, service delivery) Bifurcated policies (defining expenditure goals and targets/delivery legal aid services)
Legal profession/lawyers at gatekeepers Economists/civil service professionals/managers as gatekeepers


Features Mutual interest model Purchaser-supplier model
Advantages Demonstrated track record historically Demonstrated record in current comparable national public policy projects
Expression of international post-war courts-legal profession-lawyers' services approach (i.e. the "first wave" of the access-to-justice approach) Expression of international post-modern/new modern phase public management approach
  Brings legal aid management into line with current trends in the welfare state
Mobilises socio-legal institution of legal aid Mobilises legal institution of contract
Compatible with goals of social welfare capitalism Compatible with goals of market capitalism
Inter-active, national, macroconsultative system oriented, centrifugal public policy project Inter-active, national, micro-oconsultative centripetal public policy project
Shared responsibility for policymaking, resource allocation, outcome agendas and service delivery Responsibility divided between funders (policy making, resource allocation & outcome agendas) and providers (service delivery)
De-centralises and shifts costs of administering federal legal expenditure Tendency to centralise and focus costs of administering federal legal aid expenditure
  Minimises tension between multiple and conflicting agency roles
  Assists in clarifying agency needs (via contract specification and negotiation processes) and increasing competition
  Increased leverage of funding/policy agency (purchaser) over outputs
  Enables funders to satisfy increasing requirements of Departments of Finance to demonstrate effectiveness and efficiency in legal aid expenditure
  Likely to improve financial accountability and management
Risk spreading Risk nodulation
Encourages policy, eligibility and service menu diversity Maximises opportunities for policy, eligibility and service menu diversity/flexibility
  Target policy outcomes to meet identified needs for service delivery
Tends to integrate national schemes with local provincial/State lawyer elites Creates fresh opportunities to diversify interest group base in legal aid projects
Promotes self-reliant, autonomous, locally street-smart provincial/State legal aid providers Increases management autonomy of service providers
  Creates new opportunities to bridge build between legal aid programs with other social welfare and justice system projects
Emphasises quality/equity in participant partner relationships Emphasises efficient, effective, outcome oriented resource allocation
Provides macro-institutional framework to mediate partner/interest group differences Provides micro-institutional frameworks (i.e., bargaining, negotiation, contract, and contract management) to mediate funder/purchaser and provider/supplier differences
Mobilises legal professional social service/social justice ideals Creates opportunities to rejuvenate support base amongst practising lawyers (as governments/consumer re-re-renegotiate 20th century legal professionalism)
Mobilises/engages skills, know-how and social capital of the legal profession Mobilises/engages skills and know-how of practising lawyers
  Reduces opportunities for supplier capture
Significant degree of compatibility with traditional work models in professional occupations Potential to mobilise skills and know-how of non-lawyer legal services providers
  Potential to mobilise purchaser/ supplier experiences in other public sector agencies
Compatible with traditional work practices of legal profession (i.e. lawyer defined competence, quality, cost and scope of service delivery) Creates opportunities to reconstruct lawyer work practices in legal aid work
  Enables funding/policy agencies to create or intervene in occupational markets


Features Mutual interest model Purchaser-supplier model
Disadvantage Efficiency and effectiveness contestable Conversion to a purchasersupplier model inevitably disrupts relationships of long standing (short or long-term)
Mismatch between reporting/outcome criteria and Departments of Finance program management criteria Possibly associated with trend towards reduced central expenditure on legal aid programs
Cost-benefit of federal expenditure on legal aid may be problematic Risks federal funders losing national perspective (and concentrating on efficiently targeting legal aid in federal matters)
Effective monitoring of federal expenditure can be problematic Risks federal governments/ legal aid funders/policy makers retaining insufficient incentives to collect comprehensive national data
Lack of central awareness/ sufficient knowledge of local markets for legal aid services, peculiarities of regional/local legal cultures etc. Risks providers' pursuing shortterm savings/ benefits at the cost of sustainable, win/win relationships with suppliers (e.g., provincial/State agencies, practising lawyers, NFPs etc.)
Diminished resonance of socio-legal institution of legal aid in market welfare state Demands new investment in monitoring technologies, research, needs management and contract management
Less compatible with goals of market capitalist states (e.g., de-regulation, reforms to markets for legal services) Risks contract/separating funding/policy and service delivery functions being seen as one-stop solution to problems of funding/managing complex, multi-relationship and dynamic legal aid projects
Not necessarily attuned to current visions of state/legal profession relationship of practising lawyer opinion leaders Risks uncompensated costshifting to provincial/State/ legal profession suppliers of costs of administering/ accounting for expenditure on federal legal aid priorities
Risks collective/partnership culture producing lowest common denominator or majority interest (i.e. favouring provincial/ State legal aid provider) solutions Introduction of divide between federal and provincial/State legal aid matters introduces artificial divide, out-of-step with emergence of national economies and globallysensitive local/regional communities
Political voice of provincial/ State legal aid agencies possibly disproportionate to funding quid pro quo Introduction of divide between federal and provincial/State legal aid matters risks prejudicing clients with mixed/ overlapping/fused legal problems and cases
Shared responsibility for policy, resource allocation and service delivery can lead to gaps in accountability Potential to damage desirable/productive aspects of legal professional work practices
Partnership approach not necessarily attuned to linked-up, seamless, integrated approach of access-to justice policies Over-regulation/reporting and excessive controls/ restrictions on legal professional work risks alienating otherwise empathetic and effective practising lawyers willing and in practice cohorts for which legal aid work is otherwise financially viable
Savings in cost of federal administration may be at the price of non-optimum match between policy and service delivery outcomes and responding to needs  
Problems in collecting comprehensive, reliable cost, services delivery and outcome data  
Semi-autonomy of provincial/State legal aid agencies may produce over emphasis on regional/local interests at cost of national and federal interests and meeting client needs  
Institutional design/cultures creates potential for capture by non-federal interests  
Imbrication of socio-legal institution of legal aid as institutional/cultural/ ideological template protects/projects interests of the legal profession and practising lawyers  
Reinforces professionalism (at costs of efficiency/ effectiveness, competition and consumer interests)  
Tends to protect potentially negative features of work practices of the legal profession (e.g., how legal work is performed, at what cost, and in what bundles)  
Reliance on mobilising the legal profession promotes opportunities for capture of centrally-funded legal aid projects  
Exclusive aspects of the socio-legal institution of legal aid (eg, inadequate voice for social welfare and consumer groups) Institutionally/ culturally less willing/able to respond to new market needs in a timely fashion  
Decentralised policymaking/ expenditure may lead to lack of uniformity in eligibility for federallyfunded legal aid  


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