“When I met with my lawyer, I brought all my documents and told her the result I was hoping for. She explained my options and what parts she could help with. I left feeling confident I could handle the rest on my own.”
Learn tips to help you succeed with your legal matter when working with a lawyer who provides unbundled services.
Tip 1. Prepare for meeting with the lawyer
As you start working with a lawyer who provides unbundled services, pause and think about what outcome you’re seeking in your legal matter. What end result would you consider success? Write that down, and bring it to your first meeting with the lawyer.
Organize any documents you have related to your legal matter. Make a list of key facts and events, organized by date. Bring the documents and the list to your meeting with the lawyer. This step is very important to making your visit with a lawyer useful for you.
Tip 2. Plan how to divide up the work needed
When you meet with the lawyer, explain the outcome you’re seeking in your legal matter. Share all the documents and all relevant information you have about the matter.
Together, you can now make a plan for how you will divide up what work needs to be done.
Identify the key tasks
Start by identifying the key tasks needed to achieve the outcome you want.
Divide up the tasks
Once you and your lawyer have identified the tasks, decide together which ones you want help with and which you will handle on your own.
The tasks you take on should be ones best suited to your skills and comfort level.
For example, say you’re going to mediation in a family matter. You might decide to handle the mediation session on your own, and have your lawyer help with tasks such as these:
- before the mediation, advising you on the law that applies
- giving you tips on how to handle yourself at the mediation session
- after the mediation, drafting a separation agreement setting out what you agreed on at the mediation
Learn about the range of legal services that can be unbundled.
Then record your plan
Put your plan in writing.
Tip 3. Get your agreement in writing
Once you’ve come up with a plan, you and your unbundled lawyer will sign a written agreement. This agreement is called a “retainer agreement” or “limited scope retainer”.
The “limited scope” means you are limiting the services the lawyer is taking on. You are retaining the lawyer to perform only those tasks, and you will take care of the rest yourself. The agreement should clearly set out:
- the services your lawyer will (and will not) provide in the case
- the tasks you will take care of yourself
- how your lawyer will bill you (for example, hourly or flat rate)
Tip 4. Communicate with people involved in your case
It’s important to stay in touch with your lawyer during your case. Keep them up to date on any developments or important changes in your situation. Decide on a communications strategy (for example, email check-ins or a weekly phone call).
Other people involved in your case — such as the opposing party and their lawyer — should understand that you’re using unbundled legal services. Ask your lawyer to inform them about your lawyer’s role in the case. That way, they’ll know whether to contact your lawyer or to reach out to you directly on an issue.