Are "Unbundled" Legal Services Ideal For You?
If you've sought legal help for a divorce, bankruptcy, small claims action, or other matter, you may have worried about your financial ability to pay attorney fees and other legal costs for the duration of a case. However, many traditional law firms and solo practitioners are starting to offer unbundled services. Read on to learn more about these services and how they may be able to assist you the next time you need legal advice.
What makes unbundled services different from traditional legal representation?
In most types of cases, your attorney will be retained to represent you for the entire duration of your legal matter. Your attorney will file a document known as a notice of appearance with the court, certifying responsibility for the handling of your case on your behalf. Your attorney will then take any actions and make any communications deemed necessary to represent your best interests until the case has concluded.
When offering unbundled services, an attorney will enter into an agreement to represent you on (or otherwise assist you with) only a specific portion of your claim.
For example, in a small claims matter, you may fill out the paperwork to file and gather the exhibits to prepare for hearing, but pay an attorney a flat fee to represent you in court at the hearing and argue on your behalf. If you've been charged with a crime, you may appear at your initial hearing and plead not guilty, but obtain an attorney to negotiate a guilty plea bargain with the prosecutor to avoid trial.
Are these services a good choice for you?
These arrangements offer advantages to both the attorney and the client. From the client's perspective, the arrangement can be the best of both worlds. You'll be able to do much of the initial legwork of your case (which you may have wished to do anyway), while retaining valuable legal counsel for the times you need it most—at a significantly reduced cost from normal attorney fees.
From the attorney's perspective, this flat fee arrangement can provide a valuable financial return while avoiding the ongoing responsibility of a single specific case. Indeed, many law firms are now moving away from the billable hour model and into a flat fee, pay-by-service model to help increase efficiency among their staff.
In most fairly minor criminal or collection matters, unbundled legal services are likely the best and most cost-effective choice. However, if you've been charged with a serious time or are facing federal tax liens or other complex legal matters, you should seek legal services through experts like Bayer Jerger & Underwood until your case has been resolved.