The Benefits of Unbundled Legal Services from a Judge’s Perspective

In a recent article in the California Bar Journal, Judge Mark A. Juhas of the Los Angeles County Superior Court described the numerous benefits that unbundled legal services and limited scope representation provide those seeking access to the courts, especially as an increasing number of self-represented litigants are trying to navigate the civil justice system.

Full access to justice in the court system demands that 100 percent of court users get the level of legal assistance they need to properly resolve their legal problems.

With the continued rise in litigants who do not have legal counsel, the availability of other types of assistance can directly impact their case. While legal matters range from simple issues that may not require much assistance to complex cases where legal expertise is essential to the pursuit of the claim, most litigants are best served by “at least some assistance,” according to Judge Juhas. Unbundling specific legal services from the entirety of the case provides an avenue of assistance through which attorneys can help with certain tasks as necessary, facilitating a self-represented litigant’s path through the process.

Limited scope representation not only helps accommodate the limited means and legal experience of the litigant, but also lessens the impact on the judiciary. In California, attorneys may “ghostwrite” motions, briefs, forms, and other documents for the litigant, helping frame the issue in a favorable light, and ultimately helping the judge come to a quicker, and better, decision.

This is a ‘win-win’ for both the court and the litigant. Whether it is due to fewer court appearances, fewer rejected pleadings or better outcomes, it is a result that we all support.

Hunter Metcalf is a third-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.