Using the prevalence and proliferation of self-representation as an impetus, authors Forrest S. Mosten and Elizabeth Potter Scully have embarked upon the advancement of a method of legal representation known as unbundled legal services, or as it also called, limited scope representation in their book, Unbundled Legal Services: A Family Lawyer’s Guide. Broken down into its simplest terms, unbundled legal services refers to the practice of offering various legal services and allowing the client to select the “discrete lawyering tasks” he/she wants the lawyer to perform. The authors have identified seven categories into which these tasks fall and have provided a framework through which such unbundled services can be delivered, thereby allowing a family lawyer with the flexibility to offer full service court representation or become a non-court family lawyer offering limited scope services. Each chapter focuses on the various roles that a family lawyer is typically called upon to assume and explains how such roles can be transformed into one unbundled service. For instance, in many cases, lawyers are, at the same time, dispute resolution managers, negotiators, document drafters, and litigators for their clients. However, according to the authors, each of these roles can be unbundled and offered to the client as separate tasks as opposed to the typical all-or-nothing approach that most full service representation presents. Thus, the client can hire the attorney for those tasks for which he or she might need the most assistance. At the end of most chapters, the authors have provided their readers with practice tips for putting the presented models into play. Also, the authors have set forth the ethical considerations involved with unbundling and possible malpractice “minefields.”
If the idea of the unbundled legal services approach is new to you or if you have not yet considered it as an option for your law practice, come to the Harris County Law Library and have a look at Unbundled Legal Services: A Family Lawyer’s Guide. Who knows? It might be the right plan for you.