The traditional model of the full-service retainer leaves many people in a position where they are unable to retain legal counsel. Many people can afford to pay something for legal services but cannot afford the cost of the full representation model.
Unbundled legal services (also called limited scope retainer, limited scope representation, a la carte legal services, discrete task representation etc.) is an approach to delivering legal services in which the lawyer and client break down the client’s legal matter into a list of discrete tasks and the lawyer provides legal services for only a portion of those tasks. The client accepts the responsibility for performing the tasks agreed to by the lawyer and client.
Unbundling is not new, and lawyers provide unbundled legal services in many contexts such as giving independent legal advice, providing a second opinion on a legal issue, providing initial consultations, and advising in the role of duty counsel.
Some examples of unbundled legal services include:
- The initial consultation meeting
- Providing strategic advice, including various resolution options
- Drafting specific documents (pleadings, arguments, affidavits, orders)
- Conducting legal research
- Appearing in court for one application/hearing
- Coaching on process, strategy, negotiation or participation in court
- Representation during a mediation
- Providing independent legal advice on a mediated agreement
- Drafting an agreement coming out of a mediation
- Organizing documents
- Any other service which might be contemplated as helpful by the client