Unbundling works well for many people and many types of legal matters — but not for all. Learn whether unbundling is a good fit for you and your situation.
With unbundling, you’re in control of your case — and responsible for it
Unbundling involves hiring a lawyer for part of a legal matter. The lawyer is not taking on responsibility for handling your whole case. That remains with you. Together, you and the lawyer will identify what needs to get done, and divide up the tasks between you. You are, in effect, representing yourself for those tasks with your name beside them.
To be successful taking on these tasks, it will take time, hard work, and follow-through. It can be stressful. You should be honest with yourself about whether you have the capacity to take this on.
Increasing your chances of success with unbundling
As you’ll be handling parts of your legal matter yourself, it helps if you have these qualities:
you’re well organized
you can write well
you have strong research skills
- you can speak with confidence about your legal position
These qualities will increase your chances of getting a good outcome. They aren’t required. But they will help you be successful with unbundling.
Unbundling can be particularly effective for people who are open to coaching and suggestions on how to do things. A lawyer experienced in handling similar situations can help you be successful — if you’re receptive to their input.
“In my family case, we’re scheduled for a mediation hearing. I’m comfortable with representing myself in the mediation, but it would be so helpful to have a lawyer’s advice to prepare for the hearing. I’m not sure what I’m entitled to, and what my obligations are.”
Unbundling lowers costs — but there’s still a price
By paying only for specific legal services, unbundling helps you manage your finances as you’re dealing with a legal problem.
But unbundling does not mean free legal help. Lawyers offering unbundled services charge at their usual hourly rate. (Some will work for a flat rate, if the service you would like them to perform can be done at a flat rate.)
If you can’t afford to pay anything, there are options for free legal help. Generally, you must show you have serious financial problems to be eligible. Some examples include legal aid, pro bono programs, and law student legal clinics.