IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, released Unbundled Legal Services in the New Normal—a new report highlighting key takeaways from the national 2021 conference—in partnership with The Chicago Bar Foundation, the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and the Self-Represented Litigation Network. Accompanying the release is the launch of an unbundling resource center on IAALS’ website, which will help various stakeholders like consumers, lawyers, and courts get how-to information on promoting and utilizing unbundled legal services.
Unbundled legal services, or limited-scope representation, is one way that people who are unable to afford a lawyer—and would end up representing themselves in court—can still receive legal assistance in their case. While typically lawyers handle all aspects of a case from beginning to end, a lawyer providing unbundled legal services works on and charges for only certain legal tasks within the broader case, often based on what their clients can afford and need help with most. Unbundled legal services are becoming a more popular and less expensive way to help people get legal assistance, which usually leads to better legal outcomes than forgoing legal assistance altogether.
The three-day event highlighted that while there is increased use of technology and scalable unbundled services in this “new normal”—which makes starting an unbundled practice easier—important startup and ethical considerations remain for practitioners in this space, in addition to needed increased support by courts. The conference created a forum where an array of stakeholders shared their perspectives, gained better insights into collaborative roles, and learned about best practices to advocate for this service delivery model.