What is “unbundled” representation?
Unbundled representation (also known as limited scope representation) means that you and your lawyer agree that you will do some of the tasks associated with your case, and the lawyer will do others. The lawyer then charges you only for the parts of the case the lawyer handled.
What types of services might a lawyer provide?
Below are some examples of tasks you may want to hire a lawyer to perform:
- Have a lawyer available to provide legal information and legal advice about your case when needed
- Have an lawyer review legal correspondence and court documents
- Have a lawyer go to court with you on only certain issues in your case (such as child support and/or custody) while you do the rest yourself
- Have a lawyer prepare forms and other court documents but you file them with the court and go to court by yourself, without a lawyer
- Have a lawyer help you with the factual investigation of your case which might include contacting witnesses and searching public records
- Have a lawyer represent you only at court appearances to help you present the evidence you have gathered to the court
- Have a lawyer help you with the more complicated parts of your case, such as discovery, interrogatories, depositions, document production and legal research/analysis while you complete the simpler tasks
- Have a lawyer coach you on how to represent yourself at the court hearings and help in the preparation of evidence that you will present in court
- Have a lawyer provide you with advice about other ways to resolving your legal case such as mediation or arbitration
- Have a lawyer available for consultation and trouble-shooting during mediation or arbitration
- Have a lawyer coach you prior to negotiations, arbitrations or mediation while you attend the meeting yourself
What are the benefits of Unbundled Representation?
You can save money on legal fees by having the lawyer do only the things you can’t do yourself.
Lawyers can use their time more efficiently by focusing only on things you cannot effectively do yourself and leaving other more time-consuming tasks to you.
Having a lawyer help with parts of your case can save you a great deal of time and energy because the lawyer can educate you about the process and your specific issues. They can also help you find self-help books and other resources so you can better handle parts of the case when you are on your own.
A lawyer, with their legal training, can see things about your case that you can’t. A lawyer can help you focus on the legal issues and on what the court can do for you, so you won’t be distracted by other issues and emotions.
A lawyer can identify potential problems or hidden complications early on, so you can avoid making a costly mistake.
What to consider when deciding if unbundled representation is right for you.
While there are many benefits to unbundled representation, there are times when it might not be the best choice for you. You may want to hire a lawyer for full representation in circumstances where:
- Your case has a lot of technical issues or is very time sensitive
- You do not have the time to educate yourself or effectively handle many of the tasks that you need to do
- There is a lot at stake in your case (such a losing your home, losing parenting rights to your children, or substantial financial loss)
If you choose to hire a lawyer for full representation, remember that communication and teamwork is the key. You must make sure to honestly discuss your legal matter with the lawyer in detail and ask questions about issues that are not clear to you.
How to work with an Unbundled Lawyer
You and the lawyer should have an in-depth discussion about all parts of your case and agree on who is doing what. Make sure you have a signed agreement that clearly states what the lawyer will and will not do for you.
Some of the issues you need to work out with the lawyer are:
- Who will decide on strategy?
- Who will gather what information?
- Who will prepare the information for the court?
- Who will draft documents for the court?
- Who will appear at court proceedings and settlement conferences?
- Who will negotiate with the other side?
Your contract should also clearly state the fees for each service and how you will be charged. Remember, the clearer your agreement, the less likely you are to have a misunderstanding with your lawyer.
What if I need additional services from the lawyer at a later date?
New issues often come up within a case and you may need more assistance from the lawyer than you thought at first. You can always go back to the lawyer and ask for more help. Your lawyer will already be familiar with you and your case because of his or her work with you before. Just make sure that you and your lawyer clearly define what new tasks the lawyer is being hired to complete, and then sign a new contract.