Legal coaching, or “unbundling legal services,” is when you hire a lawyer to give you limited legal representation.
For example, in most cases when you hire an attorney the lawyer takes on every aspect of the case. This includes everything from drafting and mailing documents to appearing in court and speaking on your behalf. This is considered “full” legal representation.
Legal coaching allows you to hire an attorney for “partial” legal representation. For instance, the lawyer could draft your documents and give you advice, but you could appear in court on your own.
It’s a cost-saving approach that is growing in popularity.
With legal coaching, your lawyer doesn’t necessarily represent you on your case in the traditional sense. Instead, you hire the lawyer to advise you and divide up the work on your case.
You could arrange a very hands-off legal coaching arrangement where the lawyer merely reviews documents and gives advice. You could also hire the lawyer to prepare documents for you and do everything but go to court.
Unbundling services operates on a case-by-case basis; legal coaching isn’t appropriate for every case.
For example, some states restrict the use of unbundling legal services in criminal defense cases. It is also strongly encouraged to seek full legal representation in complex cases.
Additionally, it’s possible that as your legal coach guides you through your case that he advises you to seek full representation. Your lawyer may even have an ethical duty to stop representing you as a legal coach. Sometimes it’s simply in your best interest to obtain full representation.
Unbundling legal services includes a variety of services:
Ultimately, your legal coach will work to advise you, rather than actively representing you by filing applications, processing legal paperwork, or appearing in court to represent you.
First, you will need to consult with a lawyer–like lawyers at Tingen & Williams–who offers legal coaching arrangements. During your consultation, your lawyer will review your case and determine whether or not you should seek full legal representation.
Keep in mind that while unbundling legal services is a growing trend, legal coaching is still a new concept for some lawyers. This means that it might be hard to find a lawyer who offers unbundled legal services.
Also, you should be aware that there are some issues with legal coaching in the courtroom. Some courts may require disclosure of authorship when documents have been ghostwritten by your attorney. Other states may prohibit the use of unbundled legal services.
Each state bar regulates legal service unbundling, so be sure to check your state’s rules before using legal coaching for your case.
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington each have issued state-specific ethics opinions in regard to the use of unbundled legal services.
Tingen & Williams offers unbundled legal services–just ask about legal coaching during your consultation.
If your case needs full legal representation, we’ll advise you to hire a lawyer for every aspect of your case. But if you think you can manage your case on your own, you should be fine with a legal coach.
It’s recommended to sign an agreement that lays out the scope of your legal coaching arrangement. This agreement details your responsibilities and your lawyer’s responsibilities. Essentially, you’ll sign that you understand the limitations and risks of unbundled legal services.
Our agreement includes a provision that you will seek full representation if recommended.
Remember: in legal coaching arrangements, you accept responsibility for your case. Your lawyer is required to provide competent, legitimate legal advice and services, but that is as far as his representation extends.
After you decide to pursue legal coaching, and once your case has been deemed appropriate for this kind of arrangement, your lawyer will establish a course of action. This plan will clarify the steps you will need to take to achieve success in your case. The plan may also include your lawyer’s recommendation of other legal services that may benefit you.
Legal coaching is a growing trend–it’s possible that you can find a local lawyer willing to provide unbundled legal services.
However, the nature of legal coaching also makes it possible to hold virtual consultations and provide advice over the phone or via email. This means the pool of potential lawyers you can hire just got a lot bigger.
It’s important to note that some practice areas, like family law, are state specific. If you live in Texas and need a divorce, you’ll need to find an attorney licensed in Texas.
However, for some federal practice areas, like immigration, you can hire an attorney licensed in any state.
Here at Tingen & Williams we represent clients from all 50 states in immigration and trademark cases. We also represent Virginia clients in family law, criminal law, and estate planning matters.
Legal coaching is likely to save you costs in your case individually, but the changes it is making to the legal services community will likely bring down the cost of legal services across the board.
If you’re unsure whether or not an attorney offers unbundled legal services, it’s beneficial to ask. Even if it isn’t a service that a certain firm is promoting, it may be a service that an attorney is willing to offer.
Unbundling legal services is a growing practice, helping to bridge the gap between legal aid and affordability. Legal coaching makes legal assistance more affordable and accessible than ever before. It is both financially and practically advantageous for clients and lawyers.
Book an appointment to discuss legal coaching options and find out if it’s the right choice for you.