Option 3: Unbundled Legal Services

by Katy Sheehan on August 21, 2009

in Resources

Most people think that you either have a lawyer to represent you or you don’t.  But legal services are like a spectrum and the variety of legal services available are exponentially growing; you can contact best custom writing service and read about each of them in detail, so you will have a general idea about legal services..  In the old days, before the internet made it easy to share information, people usually either represented themselves in civil matters pro se (for themselves) or they were represented by an attorney.  The third option which has evolved over time and officially lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes is now known as unbundled legal services, or limited representation.

Unbundled legal services are services which involve some level of legal work from an attorney but do not reach the level of full representation.  Unbundled services includes consulting with an attorney who may give advice, resources, and options to the client who ultimately does the work.  Another way a lawyer might provide unbundled legal services is by preparing documents for a client to file themselves.  Finally, an attorney may agree to limited representation of the client in court for a specific issue or hearing.  Essentially, a client can choose whatever level of involvement they want from an attorney.

Of course this depends on the complexity of the case because a very complicated issue will need the full services of a lawyer.  However, the reality is that there is legal work which can be navigated by non-lawyers who for one reason or another want to do it themselves.

Unbundled legal services are not full legal services and clients should be made aware of the difference between the two.  They should know the risks and benefits involved in dealing with their own issue so that they can make an informed choice about how they want to proceed.  What prevents lawyers from fully embracing unbundled legal services is that they never know how complicated an issue is until they have fully researched the problem.  A situation which on its face is a simple, cut and dry Estate Plan can sometimes blossom into a full blown tax law, family law, bankruptcy law, etc. issue in a matter of days.  This is an unavoidable problem, however it does not overshadow the fact that there ARE legal issues which a client can handle themselves with a little help, as long as everyone enters these agreements understanding the full range of potential outcomes.

People choose unbundled legal services to save money for the most part.  The reality is that our middle class has been priced out of many legal services and cannot afford to hire lawyers.  This prevents people from taking measures which act to prevent potential costly legal issues in the future.  For example, a co-habitation agreement often prevents future conflict by outlining what will happen in the event of a break-up.  A Will can prevent in-fighting among relatives over the estate of a deceased parent.  Unbundled legal services addresses this problem by allowing for the middle ground between doing it completely alone and having a lawyer do it for the client.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matt Pitts October 19, 2009 at 8:51 am

Great post. It is good to see forward thinking lawyers who embrace the idea that not everyone can afford full service legal representation.

Matt Pitts
Freelance Paralegal

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