Unbundling/Limited Scope Representation
Limited scope representation (sometimes called “unbundling” or “legal coaching”) is a way that a lawyer can help you with part of your case, while you represent yourself. For example:
– You can consult with a lawyer to prepare or review your paperwork, but you would appear in court yourself;
– You can represent yourself through your whole case, but you can consult with a lawyer at various stages who can coach you through the process;
– You can ask a lawyer to review the law and give you advice on arguments or requirements you’ll need to meet to make your case;
– You can ask a lawyer to be on ‘standby’ while you attend a settlement conference, so that you can call with any questions or concerns;
With unbundled services, you may be able to handle the whole case yourself, except for a few legal or procedural issues where a lawyer can help. The process is very flexible; you and your lawyer can come up with a plan that makes sense for you, both from a legal and a financial perspective.
Is Unbundling Right For You?
Unbundled legal services are not suitable for every matter. They also will not work well for every type of client. While we would need to review your matter to see if it is a good fit for unbundling, you should ask yourself the following questions to see if unbundling would be a good fit for you.
- Can you make good decisions under pressure?
- Are you good at handling details and following through on deadlines?
- Do you feel comfortable asking for help?
- Are you patient?
- Do you own a computer and are you proficient at typing?
- Are you comfortable doing legal research online or at the library?
- Are you well organized?
- Are you comfortable with technical documents?
- Do you have the time needed to represent yourself?
- Are you able to work on your legal matter in a detached way or are you very emotionally connected to your matter?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you might want to consider unbundled legal services.
Why you should discuss your matter with a lawyer
It is important to thoroughly discuss all aspects of your case (even if you think it is a very simple case) with your lawyer before deciding which parts you’ll do yourself and which parts a lawyer will assist you -with. It is also important to realize that there may be an important issue presented by your case that you might not even be aware of, but that a lawyer will be able to bring to your attention.
Never make assumptions about how the law applies to your case. TV shows about the law are rarely accurate, and well-meaning friends and family might have anecdotal advice, but each case is different. The best way to know how the law applies to your case is to talk it over with a qualified lawyer.
Sometimes, after your case is underway, a new issue or concern will pop up. If that happens, it is important to let your lawyer know, so that you can discuss the potential legal consequences. Remember that your lawyer can only give you advice on things you’ve told them about, so it is essential to provide the complete picture about your case.
Remember, you and your lawyer are working together as a team, especially in unbundled matters. Good communication and a clear understanding of each person’s role is essential.
Note: This page is adapted from a document that can be found on LAWPRO’s Limited Scope Representation Resources page at practicepro.ca/LimitedScope. It was adapted out of the Limited Representation Committee Risk Management Materials at the California Commission on Access to Justice, as created and updated by M. Sue Talia.