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Developing a portfolio of financially sustainable, scalable basic legal service models – Costing methodology paper

By: Law and Development Partnership

This methodological paper sets out an approach to costing the delivery of basic legal services at scale as applied to a range of basic legal service models in a recent study funded by the Open Society Foundations and International Development Research Centre. The study developed a broader framework for thinking about how basic legal service interventions can be taken to scale in a sustainable manner to enable improved access to justice for people living in the most vulnerable Low Income Countries (LICs) and Fragile and Conflict-Affected States (FCAS). Analysing costs and benefits is key to understanding the feasibility of scaling up basic legal service provision.

Accordingly, one aspect of the study considered what we know about the unit costs of basic legal services and how we calculate them. This question was considered in the context of 17 case study interventions. 12 case studies were in low and middle income countries and were distilled into five broad models of intervention: community-based paralegals (Liberia, Myanmar, Sierra Leone), microfinancing justice (Bangladesh, Microjustice4All and Microjusticia Argentina), community law centres (China and Rwanda), hybrid models (South Africa and Ukraine) and justice hubs (Kenya and Uganda). Four case studies were in OECD contexts (Australia, Canada, the UK and the Netherlands) and were considered by way of comparison. The study then drew on a range of country legal needs surveys to develop a new methodology for calculating the unit costs and affordability of basic legal services and applied it to twelve of these case studies.

This methodological paper sets out the five step methodology used in the study, explaining its limitations where appropriate, provides examples of its application to the case studies, and summarises some of the key data constraints and methodological challenges for further discussion.

It is hoped that the methodological approach proposed will assist a wide range of stakeholders in expanding available models for the development and financing of scaled up interventions, capable of meeting the primary justice needs of the poor and vulnerable.

The full report from the original study is found here.

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Uploaded on: Sep 06, 2016
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2017
Year Published: 2016
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