In many circumstances, Arizona’s state court rules and attorney ethics’ code provisions accommodate the public’s needs to retain counsel affordably by allowing attorneys to “unbundle.”
1. What’s “Unbundling”? Imagine, if you will, a full-service restaurant with fine linens, crystal, silverware, and table-side wait service. Now imagine the cafeteria-style buffet line. Both satisfy a customer’s desire to enjoy a meal out. Differences include the depth of service and the packaging, and most likely, the price-point of affordability to the customer who will spend more modestly. The similarity will be that both establishments will be subject to licensures and health codes. The buffet-line restaurant has “unbundled” while the sit-down wait service restaurant has provided a full-service meal. Both satisfy a need responsibly and well.
2. Hiring an Attorney for Discrete Tasks or Full Representation – either’s okay, and both require the attorney and client to agree to the scope of representation. Either way, the same ethical rules apply, including those of diligence and competence as to the scope of representation offered.
With few exceptions, those practicing law or appearing in court settings must be attorneys admitted to practice law by the Arizona Supreme Court. As attorneys, we might concentrate our practices or we might practice multiple areas of substantive law. As to the latter, some of us are prepared for a variety of practice area requests to serve clients, for instance advanced directives, small business, disputes, family law, elder law, probate matters, litigation, contracts, or protective orders.
The same attorney might offer limited scope representation sometimes and at other times, representation from start-to-finish. In all cases, clients and attorneys will have agreed to the scope of representation, or what role is undertaken. For instance, a whole case or matter, or in contrast, unbundling with just a coaching session, or maybe a work-study session to review laws, recommendations, and reasonably foreseeable procedures, risks, and benefits.
Unbundling is a valuable tool and serves the public well for those clients who wish to gain a solid understanding and a game plan without long-term or continued representation.
Many of the solos and small firms participating on this website are pleased, when ethically appropriate, to offer either or both of Full Scope Legal Services or Limited (“unbundled”) Representation, depending upon the situation and analysis of the case, whether an in-court matter or transactional.
© 2015 The Law Office of Debbie Weecks
The information in this article is educational in nature and not case-specific. This discussion does not constitute legal advice or a statement on behalf of any court or organization.
This article is provided as a public service by the Law Office of Debbie Weecks. For more information about unbundled legal services, you can visit Ms. Weecks’ website, or contact our attorney members.