Serving the DIY Client: A Guide to Unbundling Legal Services for the Private Practitioner
Portions of this ebook appear in the author's book, Limited Scope Legal Services: Unbundling and the Self-Help Client, American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section (2012)
76 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2013
Date Written: February 1, 2011
We live in a do-it-yourself (DIY) society. Consumers are comfortable going online to handle business and professional transactions. They shop, conduct banking and investing, earn degrees and communicate with family and friends over the Internet. The public has gotten used to controlling online interactions and many individuals see the benefit and convenience of handling business on their own time.
For at least the past five years, online legal service companies, such as LegalZoom, have educated consumers about DIY legal services. Consumers fill out questionnaires and purchase automated legal forms for sale online that they must then be responsible for executing and filing at the courthouse. DIY legal form kits are also for sale at most office supply stores. Other consumers make the dangerous choice to cut and paste together legal forms from samples they have found online on various free legal resource websites. Countering this trend, some non-profits and court systems have taken steps to create self-help centers and to work with private practitioners who volunteer in court-sponsored limited services programs. However, these resources are not available for all individuals and may pertain to assistance in only certain areas of the law.
While some law firms have provided unbundled legal services for years, it is not a practice that private practitioners have widely embraced. This ebook will provide a basic introduction to unbundling for private practice lawyers, discuss ethics concerns and best practices, and provide practical suggestions for implementation. As a side goal, this ebook will hopefully start a renewed dialogue between the private and public sectors of the legal profession about using unbundling as an alternative solution for chipping away at the nation’s access to justice deficiencies.
Keywords: law practice, law practice management, legal services, law, online legal services, virtual law practice, unbundling, limited scope
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