Services & Pricing

Three Takeaways from the Unbundled Legal Services in the New Normal Conference

Last month the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), The Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF), the Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN), and the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services hosted the virtual Unbundled Legal Services in the New Normal Conference. Over 200 legal stakeholders from over 40 states and several countries attended the five sessions and left feeling educated, inspired, and eager to continue the conversation. Here are a few of our takeaways from the conference.

Increase your collection rates, profit, and happiness (!)

Some lawyers have the misconception that unbundling legal services is unethical and that by offering unbundled services they are increasing their chances of committing malpractice. The first panel at the conference debunked this myth, and in fact, all three panelists – an ethics expert, a legal regulator, and a malpractice insurance provider – agreed that not only is it ethical to unbundle in many situations, but it’s also a good business practice so long as you determine that the representation is reasonable under the circumstances, the client gives informed consent, and you clearly outline what you will do and what you will not do for the client in a written engagement agreement. You can watch a recording of the Addressing Ethical and Malpractice Concerns panel discussion here.

Another misconception some lawyers have is that unbundled services are merely ancillary services that can only be offered in limited situations. The practitioners on the Unbundling 2.0: How to Take your Practice to a Next Level panel not only debunked this myth but flipped it on its head. All three panelists have made unbundled legal services a core part of their business model. Two of the firms featured – The Law Shop by Skogerson McGinn and myvirtual.lawer – offer unbundled legal services exclusively, and the third firm – The Law Office of Alyease Jones – offers mostly unbundled legal services. Why? Because doing so is not just a win for clients. It also leads to increased collection rates (100% for The Law Shop &, increased profits, and increased happiness for attorneys. Learn how you can take your practice to a new level by watching the recording of the panel discussion here.

There’s something in it for all legal stakeholders

Unbundling doesn’t just benefit private practitioners. For decades, legal aid attorneys have been using unbundled legal services in creative ways to maximize their impact for clients with limited dollars. Courts also benefit from unbundled services because it means less people are showing up to court fully unrepresented. At the conference, one panel shared examples of how stakeholders can come together, combine their resources, and use unbundled services to resolve high volume matters. One example that was shared is the Early Resolution Program in Cook County, Illinois where Cook County residents who are facing eviction or debt issues can get free legal help and mediation. These unbundled services are provided by local legal aid organizations, some of whom are leveraging pro bono attorneys to offer the services. Additional examples shared were the Alaska Bar Association’s Unbundled Attorney List and night court in the 10th Judicial District in Kansas. You can watch a recording of the Unbundling the Court System panel discussion here.

The future will offer new business and access to justice opportunities

According to the Cyborg Lawyers and New Frontiers in Unbundling panelists, the future of unbundled legal services will offer new business opportunities for lawyers and serve as a powerful tool for advancing innovation and increasing access to justice and better outcomes. Leveraging technology tools and platforms to create unbundled legal products is one future pathway to profitability and increased access to justice. Hello Divorce and LawGuides are great examples of for-profit legal products providing unbundled services powered by tech, and Afterpattern offers a framework and platform for building and testing legal product ideas.

Another pathway is the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s (JALA) Family Assistance at Reduced Expense (FLARE) program, which leverages tech and legal aid overflow to create a business development pipeline for attorneys in the area of family law. FLARE provides unbundled dissolution of marriage, paternity, time sharing, and relative guardianship services to people up to 400% of the federal poverty guidelines. JALA sets prices and collects the fees for the services up front and promotes them to the public. JALA then hands the cases over to private attorneys (mostly solo practitioners) who agree to do the work at the set price and within JALA’s case structure. Many clients have already filed paperwork and need help with next steps (e.g., mediation or a temporary support hearing). The program is a win for all involved. JALA and the private attorneys earn revenue and the clients are able to afford the limited help they need at that time.

A third pathway – online dispute resolution platforms and court mediation programs – is an examples of how focused unbundling can create opportunities for litigants and lawyers. In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, pro bono attorneys have the opportunity to develop practice skills while representing self-represented litigants in mediation. The online dispute resolution platform Matterhorn by Court Innovations is seeing a trend where firms use their platform and offer online dispute resolution as a branded service offering and expects this hybrid approach of integrating lawyers into the process when needed to resolve a legal matter to continue. You can watch a recording of both panel discussions here.

Continuing the conversation

There are a number of ways to stay involved in the unbundling community and conversation. One way is to become a member of the Self-Represented Litigation Network Working Group on Unbundled Legal Services. Another is to join the Unbundled Law Facebook group or On Purpose Legal Network. Finally, check out the local resources and communities within your state!

Missed the conference but you’re interested in learning more about unbundled legal services? No problem! You can find all conference information and materials, including recordings of all of the panel discussions, at