Frequently Asked Questions for Family Law
Yes. You can opt to hire a lawyer to provide legal consulting or handle parts of your case (limited scope or unbundeled). Unbundled services also more formally called limited legal services representation is an alternative to a full service lawyer. Another suitable description might be legal services “a la carte.” Just as this suggests, a lawyer may be engaged to provide a specific and limited kind of help, such as the drafting or review of a proposed agreement, behind the scenes “coaching” for a hearing or mediation, or other limited services consistent with a client’s defined needs and budget. With unbundling, client and attorney can define and limit both services and cost in advance in a way that satisfies the needs of both.
Unbundled legal services is a method of addressing a client’s legal needs where the lawyer and the client agree to limit the scope of attorney involvement to specific tasks, specific methods, or certain issues. The client will be responsible for doing everything else. This method allows individuals who do not desire traditional attorney representation to access (and pay for) a defined scope of the work.
Something of value is at risk in any legal dispute. The stakes can be high. It is possible to make mistakes that can be costly to repair. Individuals who try to handle the complexities of their own divorce, without the help of a lawyer, run the risk of overlooking factors that a lawyer would find significant. On the other hand, some people prefer unbundled legal services, either due to the financial cost, or because they prefer to manage the case themselves.
“Unbundled legal services” is a way for you as the client to tailor your investment in a lawyer according to your own resources and your sense of what the situation requires. You and your lawyer will both want to carefully define your respective responsibilities, so that the expectations are set up front, and in the end, everything gets done well.
Traditional attorney representation in a divorce action, for example, includes communicating with the client, advising the client as to legal rights and responsibilities, preparing appropriate pleadings, engaging in adequate discovery, communicating with the opposing party (or counsel), analyzing facts as the facts become known, negotiating on the client’s behalf, and appearing and advocating in court for the client. For a continuous period of time, perhaps longer than a year, your lawyer is authorized to speak and act for you in your legal action.
When a prospective client meets with an attorney for an initial consultation, provides information, receives legal advice, and decides not to return to hire the attorney to represent them but instead to represent himself or herself thereafter, that consultation is an example of an unbundled legal service. Other examples of “unbundling” include hiring the attorney for further advice from time to time; hiring the attorney to do specific legal research and provide them with the results; hiring the attorney to review pleadings or to help draft pleadings; hiring the attorney to review a proposed settlement; or hiring the attorney to provide full representation on one of several issues but not any of the others.
Yes. We help clients on an “unbundled” basis rather than representing them in all aspects of their case. Unless the case is a criminal defense matter, our representation is unbundled and limited-scope in all cases. For example, a client might ask us to limit our representation to the review of an opposing party’s settlement offer, the drafting of a difficult document, or the preparation of written materials for a motion. We have a few rules for these types of unbundled services. First, we will not appear in court (orally argue a matter in the courtroom). Second, we will not appear at trial (represent a client in person at trial) if we have not prepared the case for trial. Third, we reserve the right to refuse a request for unbundled legal work if we believe the unbundled services would jeopardize the client’s case.
With Defending L.A., APC, you will get access to high-quality legal services tailored to your needs where you can:
• Purchase services by the task rather than by the hour (unless purchasing coaching);
• Maintain the flexibility to manage the parts of your case that don’t require legal expertise;
• Exercise more control over the relationship between you and a family lawyer (traditional law firm charging hourly rates).
• With all the freedom and cost savings of unbundling comes responsibility. You will be your own attorney. Defending L.A., APC will not be acting as your attorney. Please read carefully what we will do and will not do prior to choosing to purchase a service.
• We will give you lots of background information and make suggestions, but it’s your job to apply it to your case and carry through.
• It’s up to you to make sure you file your pleadings on time.
• You are responsible for gathering all the information you need.
• If you end up going to court, it is especially important that you ask enough questions and understand our advice and direction. Judges tend to get impatient with self-represented litigants who talk about extraneous issues, ask questions the judge expects lawyers to know already, and make speeches about things that may seem important to litigant when they are not to the Judge.