Unbundled Legal Services - Information
(The information below has been reproduced from the Civil Justice Network website.)
What are "Unbundled Legal Services"?
"Unbundled" legal services can also be described as "discrete task representation". An attorney who provides a specific service to a client (who is otherwise handling an action pro se) is providing one service out of the possible range of "bundled" services, otherwise referred to as full representation. Some observers note that this type of service has always been part of the practice of law, although usually in the context of a relationship with an existing client.
What "Unbundled Legal Services" Means for Clients:
Attorneys which are committed to the "Unbundled" concept are willing to provide limited legal services to clients. Instead of paying a large retainer up-front a lawyer delivering limited legal services will undertake discrete tasks such as:
- Legal advice: office visits, telephone calls, fax, mail, e-mail
- Advice about availability of alternative means to resolving the dispute, including mediation and arbitration.
- Evaluation of clients’ self-diagnosis of the case and advising client about legal rights.
- Guidance and procedural information for filing or serving documents.
- Reviewing correspondence and court documents.
- Preparing and/or suggesting documents to be prepared.
- Factual investigation: contacting witnesses, public record searches, in-depth interview of client.
- Legal research and analysis.
- Discovery: interrogatories, depositions, requests for document production.
- Planning for negotiations, including simulated role playing with client.
- Planning for court appearances made by client, including simulated role playing with client.
- Backup and trouble-shooting during the trial.
- Referring client to other counsel and to other experts.
- Counseling client about possible appeal.
- Procedural assistance with appeal and assisting with substantive legal argumentation in appeal.
In all of these situations the attorney will charge just for the limited legal services used, rather than charging a fee for management of the entire case. Normally clients will have to sign a Limited Retainer Agreement affirming that they understand that the legal services delivered are limited in nature. However, combining legal services with self-help approaches can dramatically reduce the over-all cost of legal services to the consumer. Instead of costing $750.00 for a no-fault divorce, for example, a consumer could purchase limited legal advice and coaching assistance for $100.00-$200.00 and file their own documents saving the difference in fees by self-representation. Self-representation and purchasing limited legal services is not for every-one and is not a workable alternative for highly contested conflicts, or where there is a great difference in the power relationship between the plaintiff and defendant. But for some routine matters, purchasing discrete legal services is a method of making legal services affordable.