Unbundled Legal Services
aka Limited Scope Legal Representation
If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve noticed we appear to be in somewhat of a fiscal crisis. A meltdown. A mess. A recession.
Sure, sure. But what does that have to do with the law? Well, it seems that with this financial hiccup, this financial blip, this financial snarfle has profound impact on the daily lives of individuals. The impact results in loss of jobs, loss of homes, loss of medical insurance, loss of transportation, destroying marriages in its wake, affecting many.
Much of the loss involves court action – unemployment actions, foreclosure actions, bankruptcy and collection filings, divorce actions, etc. In the past many of these individuals would seek assistance from attorneys who are well-versed in the laws affecting their clients.
This is NOT occurring in this era of Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown and other DIY shows. Instead people are flocking into courtrooms themselves, without expert counsel. These individuals may be called Self-Represented Litigants (SRLs) or Pro Se Litigants or Pro Per Litigants. In this blog you’ve seen reference to SRLs.
Well, why is this worthy of a column?
- Because unfortunately many of these individuals are heading into court thinking that they operate similarly to what has been shown on television and that is generally NOT how the court operates.
- Because many are heading into court not understanding the consequences of the litigation.
- Because many do not understand the court rules.
- Because many do not know where to even FIND court rules.
- Because attorneys have this knowledge and are not able to share their knowledge because of the perception of high costs.
- Because this will lead to even more barriers to justice which will lead to greater perception that the courts only help people or companies with lots of money.
And that pains me. And it pains many of my attorney friends.
Sure, there’s always a greedy attorney joke out there. About an Ambulance chaser. About a Scheister/Shyster.
Go ahead. Tell the joke, even if it’s in your head. Laugh or chuckle a bit. Then come back to this blog.
Welcome back. Contrary to all you’ve read or heard, MOST, MOST, not all, but MOST attorneys enter the profession to help. It may be to help a specific person – maybe a family member. It may be to help a group of people. And, if you think about it, law and attorneys function precisely TO ASSIST.
Which leads to my attorney friends.
BIG DISCLAIMER: I AM AN ATTORNEY. MY HUSBAND IS ALSO AN ATTORNEY. MY COUSIN IS AN ATTORNEY. MY BROTHER HAS HIS LAW LICENSE.
I have many friends who are currently practicing law. Some are practicing in large firms. Others are solo practitioners. Yet others are government attorneys. And many of them work for non-profit legal service entities.
And we’re all talking. (ok, attorneys do love to talk) We’re all talking about the economy. We’re talking about most of us would not be able to afford to hire ourselves. This is where we all have the nervous giggle, no more of a titter.
It’s true. That’s why I say, it’s time to seriously consider UNBUNDLED LEGAL SERVICES. The term refers to a broad range of discrete tasks that an attorney might undertake such as: advice, negotiation, document review, document preparation and limited representation.
This will not abate the current fiscal crisis, but it may help people as they enter the civil legal system. Any other ideas? Anyone?
To read about Unbundled Legal Service in Canada recently in the news, click here.