Image by  Sang Hyun Cho  from  Pixabay .

Image by Sang Hyun Cho from Pixabay.

Lawyers who provide unbundled legal services, also known as “limited-scope representation,” are hired “to perform a specific task or represent [clients] for only a limited process or issue of the matter instead of the entire legal matter.” Some examples of unbundled legal services include:

  • Advising clients on their legal rights and responsibilities;

  • Conducting one-off legal research;

  • Coaching clients on how to present themselves during court procedures or ADR;

  • Making limited court appearances on behalf of the client;

  • Devising negotiation strategies; or

  • Preparing and/or writing legal documents (aka legal ghostwriting).

A Means of Increasing Access to Justice

The “justice gap” refers to the “shortfall between the civil legal needs of low-income individuals and the availability of legal help.” To illustrate this point, “almost 9 out of 10 civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans receive inadequate or no legal assistance.”

Unbundled legal services help narrow this gap for people who “want to represent themselves for cost reasons and may not be able to afford a full-service attorney.” These services are often offered at a fixed fee, which “provides cost certainty and predictability to clients.”

Further, benefits to attorneys include “increasing [their] client base, helping [their] financial bottom line, and helping [their] firm become more client-centric.”

Getting Started with Unbundled Legal Services

Clio provides six steps for lawyers beginning to offer these services:

  1. Understand ethical obligations, such as ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 472 (2015).

  2. Determine what unbundled services you will offer.

  3. Prepare a limited-scope representation agreement.

  4. Determine your pricing for unbundled legal services.

  5. Have a thorough client intake process.

  6. Make sure your client understands what you’ll be responsible for.