What are “unbundled” legal services (sometimes called, “limited legal services”)?

“Unbundled” legal services, also known as “limited legal services” or “discrete task representation,” is using your lawyer for what only a lawyer can do. You purchase the legal services or advice you need and no more. Think of purchasing legal services “Ala Carte” rather than having to purchase an entire bundle of legal services in the traditional way.

You enter into a Limited Services Retainer Agreement which specifies the scope of representation, and most often for a fixed price. Example of limited legal services are:

  • legal forms bundled with legal advice for a fixed price;
  • legal advice purchased by the question or by the session;
  • legal review and analysis of a single document;
  • court coaching services, where your attorney assists you in representing yourself in court, but doesn’t make an appearance on your behalf.

Unbundled Legal ServicesBuy just the legal services you need and no more.

Online “limited legal services” are legal services that are delivered via the Internet, rather than within the law firm’s physical office. This results in additional savings and efficiencies for clients who prefer to deal with their lawyers via the Internet. All of the law firms within the DirectLaw Network are “virtual law firms” capable of delivering “limited” online legal services. To learn more about this new way of delivering legal services visit the “Unbundling Resource Center” published by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.

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What is an “online” or “virtual law firm”?

Unbundled Legal ServicesAn “online law firm” or “virtual law firm” is a law firm that delivers legal services directly to clients via the Internet through a password-protected, secure Web space. Within this secure web space clients may purchase legal services as needed via online credit card payment, and the attorney and client can communicate, share files, and interact in a variety of ways.

The key feature of a “virtual law firm” is the use of a “secure client portal” accessible from the law firm’s Web site that enables secure communication between lawyer and client. An attorney who simply works out of his or her home, without a physical law office, but offers legal services in the traditional way is not a “virtual law firm” by this definition.

We use the definition of what is a virtual or online law firm provided by the ABA’s eLawyering Task Force which can be found here.

The most important of these requirements are that:

  •  the client be able to log in to the law firm’s own secure client portal with a user name and password;
  • the client must be able to execute a limited retainer agreement with the law firm online;
  • conflict of interests must be checked;
  • all communications between the client and the law firm must be secure and encrypted. If you arrive at a web site that claims to offer online legal services and these conditions are not met — beware because the site is not ethically compliant with the ABA’s Rules of Professional Conduct and your confidential information may be at risk.

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How does purchasing online limited legal services save money on legal fees?

Unbundled Leagl ServicesYou save on legal fees because you do part of the work yourself, and you only purchase the lawyer’s service when you really need it.

For example, instead of your attorney going with you to your “no-fault” divorce hearing – which would typically cost you for every hour of your attorney’s time – your attorney prepares just your legal forms and provides you with legal advice for your particular situation. By representing yourself and doing part of the work, such as representing yourself in the actual hearing, you can save thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Since all of the law firms in the DirectLaw Network are also “virtual law firms” you save money because of the efficiency of using the Internet as a platform for the delivery of legal services.

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How do I find a law firm that offers “online unbundled” legal services?

Web-based legal services“Unbundled” legal services is a new way of delivering legal services. All of the law firms in the DirectLaw Network offer “unbundled” legal services online.

The DirectLaw Network of law firms is the first and only law firm directory on the Internet created exclusively for law firms offering “online unbundled” legal services online. All of these firms are “virtual law firms” because they have the capability of working with you via the Internet through a “secure client portal.” Because the “unbundled legal services” and “virtual law firm” concept is so new, our law firm network does not yet cover all 50 states. However, the number of firms embracing these concepts is growing monthly.

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Is a real lawyer used in every case?

Yes. When you connect with a law firm listed in the DirectLaw Network, you deal with that law firm directly. You also work with a lawyer who is a member of the State Bar and is licensed to practice law in your state. You become a client of that law firm and will have access to your own, secure “client space” within the law firm’s Web site. Here you can access all of the law firm’s online legal services, communicate with your attorney, and enjoy the convenience and cost-savings of using a virtual law firm. You will accept what is known as a “Limited Services Agreement” specifying the scope of the client-attorney relationship and outlining the legal services you are purchasing. An attorney-client relationship will be established with all of the protections that the relationship affords, including confidentiality, a conflicts of interest check, and attorney responsibility for providing you with the proper legal advice.

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Does it matter where I live?

No, except you can only be served by a law firm that is located in a state where you are a resident, or if you have a matter located within the state where the law firm is located. The DirectLaw Network is a national network. Even if only one law firm is available in your state, that law firm can serve you anywhere you live within the state via the Internet. However, a law firm may only represent you if you are a resident of the state in which the law firm is authorized to practice. If you are an out-of-state resident, you may be represented if you have a matter within the state in which the lawyer practices.

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Can I change my lawyer?

You are free to choose a different law firm at any time prior to the commencement of work by a firm.

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What happens if my case is more complex and requires further assistance?

Your lawyer will advise you if this is the case, and arrange to engage with you by telephone or face-to-face, to make sure your matter is dealt with in the most appropriate manner. The attorney will provide you with a quote for any additional services provided. Sometimes your online lawyer will refer you to another law firm that will provide you traditional, full-service representation if you need it.

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Can I buy custom legal document drafting services?

If you need a document that requires more extensive custom drafting, your law firm will quote you a fixed fee or hourly rate to have the document completed to your exact requirements. In most instances, all of your legal document work can be completed within the fixed fee quoted by your law firm.

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Is there a refund policy?

Most of our law firms have a consumer-friendly refund policy that comes with a money-back guarantee. This is unprecedented in the legal profession. For detailed information on a law firm’s refund policy, please visit the firm’s Web site.

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What does my secure MyLegalAffairs look like?

When you sign in to to your secure client portal, this is what it will look like:

"unbundled legal services"

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