This month marked the release of the new book by Stephanie Kimbro “Limited Scope Legal Services: Unbundling and the Self-Help Client.” Ms. Kimbro is an attorney and author. One of her more recent works, Virtual Law Office: How to Deliver Legal Services Online was a great inspiration to me as I opened my own law practice and began offering legal services through the web. A while back Stephanie contacted me about my limited scope services practice and asked me if I would be willing to answer a few questions for her on how I ran that part of my practice. In this latest book she features my office and about a dozen other law practices from around the country in case studies on how these type of services are offered and the pros/cons of such a practice. I am just getting into the book but so far it is very interesting and discusses a lot of the vital questions out there on this emerging platform for practicing law.
What are Limited Scope Legal Services?
I meet with a lot of people who are being sued by an old credit card or a debt buyer like Midland Funding who are stuck in a tough spot. Often these lawsuits are for amounts less than $5,000 (often much less). Most traditional litigation attorneys will not take on the case for less than $5,000 – paid up front. It is pretty hard to justify paying an attorney $5,000 when you are being sued for $5,000! The second issue is that many people do not have the kind of money it takes to hire an attorney. Attorneys can be very expensive. If you have ever had to fight a case out in court you are painfully aware of how expensive it can be.
Limited scope legal services, or unbundling of legal services, allows the attorney to assist clients with various parts of the lawsuit. For instance, in my practice I do everything from full representation in a collection lawsuit to limited work like drafting an Answer to a complaint or even legal coaching for the person who is comfortable representing themselves but would like someone to bounce ideas off of. These types of services are much less expensive and allow clients to do some of the leg work to help reduce the costs in their own case.
In the age of Legalzoom and other online legal service providers I think this is really going to be an emerging trend for providing legal services. The benefit to the client when an attorney offers online services is not only a reduction in cost but having an attorney there to review documents and provide guidance with the legal issue- something you won’t get simply from a website alone.
Image Credit: American Bar Association
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