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A La Carte or Unbundled Legal Services

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JLaw LLC - Experienced Flat-Fee Divorce and Family Law Attorney

What Are “A La Carte” or “Unbundled” Legal Services?

When you want to hire an attorney, you can enter into a traditional full-service fee arrangement, or an alternative fee arrangement where an attorney provides limited representation. Although, most attorneys offer the traditional up-front retainer fee and billable hour arrangement, not all offer alternative fee arrangements. The right approach depends on the complexity of the issues and the needs and desires of the parties. With A La Carte legal services, you can customize your approach. “A La Carte” or "Unbundled" legal services are a way to hire an attorney to handle only specific aspects of your case, such as preparing court documents or entering a limited appearance, while you handle other parts of the case to save money, such as negotiating with your spouse. Fewer billable hours means less cost.

The American Bar Association’s 2014 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index ranks the United States 65th out of 100 countries for civil legal services affordability, which makes it the lowest ranking among all industrialized nations surveyed. For those of modest means, a traditional retainer and hourly fees may be cost prohibitive. Additionally, some prefer to be as involved as possible in their own cases and handle parts of them. An A La Carte legal service approach may be the right answer. This approach allows those who prefer not to have the traditional retainer and hourly rate to have access to legal services as well.

Tailor your legal services to your budget and needs. You may choose to hire an attorney to draft motions and file them with the court, and you may want to discuss matters with your former spouse on your own. You decide which services you will hire the attorney to perform, and which services you will perform on your own. You can decide whether you or the attorney will appear in court. The arrangement can be flexible so that you can adjust along the way depending on how the situation unfolds and how comfortable you feel performing your own legal services. You can also transition from A La Carte legal services to full representation at any point. What is on a A La Carte menu?

  • Advising on court procedures and courtroom behavior
  • Coaching on strategy
  • Conducting legal research
  • Document review
  • Drafting contracts and agreements
  • Drafting pleadings, briefs, or orders
  • Ghostwriting briefs or motions
  • Making limited appearances in court
  • Negotiating
  • Assisting with or conducting discovery
  • Providing legal guidance or opinions
  • Writing letters

A limited representation attorney can be a divorce coach: someone who provides assistance and advice as needed, but also empowers you with the education and skills to handle some aspects of your own case. A limited representation attorney can also give you tips on negotiation techniques, inform you about court procedures and rules, advise you on how to fill out court forms, or help you with other tasks required in a divorce, child custody, or child support case. Also, in a post-decree action, if something did not go the way that you wanted it to in the initial action, an attorney can help identify if something might be done differently to produce a different result in a modification.

With full representation, your attorney is responsible for all legal tasks. However, with unbundled legal services it is important to be aware that depending on your limited representation arrangement, you may be solely responsible for the following types of requirements:

  • Meeting court deadlines
  • Meeting discovery requests
  • Filing appropriate pleadings
  • Communicating with the court and opposing counsel
  • General management of your case
  • Understanding the applicable law, court order, and court rules

Therefore, it is important to realistically assess your available time and ability to handle such matters. Choose the representation option that works best for you. If you try unbundled services and decide that you would like more assistance, you have the option to convert to full representation.

When it comes to choosing an attorney to represent you, the choice is very personal. If you have any questions about your situation, please do not hesitate to call or e-mail to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation. You can call 720-709-4729, or use the online contact form.

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