An ABA eJournal article takes a look at some of the approaches taken in six states (Florida, California, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado and Maine) to the issue of unbundling. Florida Unbundles in Its Own Way, by Jill Schachner Chanen (01-09-04) The article notes that “The adoption of amended rules regulating lawyers’ conduct and the rules of civil procedure legitimizes a longstanding practice of many lawyers: assisting clients with discrete projects. The action helps facilitate the offering of unbundled legal services by codifying what a lawyer must do when assisting a client in a finite capacity.” (Thanks to SelfHelpSupport.org for the pointer.)
An especially important section of the article quotes Prof. Michael Milleman:
Although these six states have acted to sanction unbundled legal services, rule changes are not necessary, says Michael Milleman, a University of Maryland law professor. “The biggest misconception is that [unbundling] is unethical.” Most states, in fact, are silent on the subject, and many lawyers operate below the radar in offering clients limited services, he says.
Nonetheless, Milleman says the abundance of questions about ethics and how to provide discrete legal services prompted the ABA Litigation Section’s Modest Means Task Force to study those issues and eventually write a book on the subject. The Handbook on Limited Scope Legal Assistance addresses ethical concerns, provides examples of how lawyers can incorporate this type of representation into their practice and offers sample representation agreements.