What Are Unbundled Legal Services?
Unbundled legal services, also known as limited scope or discrete task representation, is where the attorney and the client make an agreement to limit the scope of the attorney's involvement in a case down to specific tasks.
For example, an attorney might offer to help a client prepare court documentation or draft written arguments. The attorney can also offer to give the client step-by-step instructions on filing, court procedures, and in certain states, an attorney might offer to enter a limited appearance.
Why Are Unbundled Legal Services Important?
There are many reasons why offering unbundled services and other affordable options can play a critical role in positioning your firm to compete and thrive in today's very competitive legal market:
#1: More and more people are representing themselves
Back in 1971, only 1% of litigants self-represented. Today, that number has grown to almost 67% of all filings in family court, and that rate is even higher in many regions. This means the pond most lawyers fish in has been reduced to barely 1/3 or 1/2 the size it once was.
This is largely due to two main factors:
- There is an increased use of forms and self-help information online
- Many people can no longer afford to pay $5000 up-front to retain a lawyer
For more detailed information and complete statistics - watch our webinar.
#2: Today, there are three times as many attorneys per person compared to 50 years ago
For example, in 1963, the US had 10,000 law school graduates. By 2014, law school graduates totaled more than 45,000. This staggering increase means there are now three times more attorneys per person!
#3: Online form and doc prep software companies are charging 10-20% of the normal cost for services
A simple Google search for "file for divorce" reveals an abundance of online software companies and "non-lawyer" document preparation services advertising rates that are a mere fraction of typical legal fees charged by an attorney.
These types of online services usually include very limited advice or review by an attorney, if at all. Nonetheless, they are lowering expectations for what many clients expect to pay for legal services.
In Summary - More Competition for Fewer Clients
Adding it all up, there are now three times as many lawyers fishing along with dozens of price-slashing tech companies in a pond where there are only 1/3 to 1/2 of the fish as there used to be.
That is not a pretty picture...
So how do you succeed in such a competitive legal market?
The Solution: Offering Services That the Majority of Your Market Can Afford
By offering unbundled legal services you will be able to deliver services that fit the budget of the average North American working family. Those families represent two-thirds of our current legal marketplace that would otherwise be forced to self-represent.
Here are some examples of unbundled service options and pricing that attorneys from around the country have shared on our podcast:
Unbundled Legal Services*
- Letter or Phone Call - $150-$300
- Case Research + Advice/Coaching - $250-$500
- Document Review + Advice/Coaching - $250-$500
- Document Preparation + Advice/Coaching - $500-$750
- Limited Scope Representation: Doc Prep + Advice/Coaching + Limited Appearance - $1000-$1500
- Payment Plan: $500-$1500 initial retainer, payments of $200-$500/month
- Traditional Retainer - $1500-$3000 initial retainer, then replenishment payments as necessary
$100-$500/month payments until payment threshold is reached
What exactly is the Layaway model? Clients make payments in advance for a specific legal task or service until they reach the agreed upon payment amount. Once the payment target is reached, the attorney delivers the legal service.
For example, if $1000 is needed to prepare and file for a divorce, and the client only has $250, under the Layaway model that client deposits an initial payment of $250 into a trust account. Client payments of $250 per month continue until the $1000 target is reached. The attorney then prepares and files the case.
Here is a short audio clip from a recent podcast episode where one of our attorneys explains how he successfully uses Layaway:
These are great examples of service options our Unbundled Attorneys provide that can fit right into your average client's budget.
*Please note - Prices are estimations only and will vary by region and practice area.