Collaboration is essential to the advancement of unbundled legal services, and there are a number of collaborative opportunities between and among key stakeholders.
Legal Services Providers & Technology Providers
It is arguably still the case that technology solutions alone, completely independent of human involvement, cannot yet provide most clients with legal advice and representation (although one cannot ignore that this possibility is on the horizon, however distant). For now, though, technology providers are playing an essential role in expanding unbundled services by facilitating connections between clients and legal services providers. Online legal marketplaces and matching platforms (like Avvo, Legal Zoom, UpCounsel, etc.), legal insurance plans (like those offered by ARAG and LegalShield), and other direct-to-consumer legal technology providers are facilitating client-attorney connection on a scale not possible by solo and small firm marketing efforts. While the business models vary across these providers, access to attorneys delivering unbundled legal services is at the core of many of them. And these platforms are doing more than just connecting attorneys with clients, they are familiarizing customers with these alternative approaches to legal services delivery.
Business-to-business technology providers are also facilitating implementation of the unbundled model by creating efficiencies on the practice side which, in turn, make an unbundled model more accessible (and potentially lucrative) for practitioners. Document assembly and automation, user-friendly client portals, attorney-client communication tools, calendaring functions, and other features are creating an efficient structure for delivering discrete task legal services. Additionally, AI-powered tools are increasingly becoming part of law practices, offering opportunities for redefining legal services and streamlining client engagement. There is an opportunity here for younger, more technologically savvy attorneys to mentor and train new and established attorneys alike on the technological aspects of streamlining an unbundled practice.
Court Systems & Legal Services Providers
In states where unbundling is successfully spreading, there is a symbiotic relationship between court system support for the model and attorney willingness to implement the model. Natural partnerships between the legal profession and court stakeholders can grow this support:
- While courts cannot give self-represented litigants advice (or demand they engage the services of an attorney), court staff and judges can educate litigants on the existence of the unbundled model, which in turn may facilitate the model’s usage and provide litigants with the tools to help them decide if unbundling is appropriate for them.
- In addition to educating litigants about the existence of affordable legal services options, courts—in partnership with bar associations—can offer litigants a vetted list of attorney providers who offer unbundled legal services, making this list available at court self-help centers and online.
- Jointly hosting continuing legal education and judicial education programs with bar leaders can help demonstrate the judiciary’s commitment to unbundling as a model.
- Law libraries exist as an important but sometimes overlooked intersection between attorneys, court staff, judges, and self-represented litigants. Litigants often turn to law libraries for help, especially in the absence of a dedicated self-help center or website. Law libraries can also facilitate the spread of information and authorized referral lists of unbundled practitioners.
Legal Services Providers & Community Organizations
Partnerships with community organizations can facilitate the connection between legal services providers and potential clients. Healthcare facilities, immigration clinics, veterans’ organizations, and other community partners can provide natural sites for attorney-client partnerships in various substantive legal areas that lend themselves to an unbundled model. Law schools and legal clinics can serve these specific, discrete community needs while also training law students on the practice. Large law firm pro bono initiatives are also well-positioned to develop and staff these relationships, providing new attorneys with an opportunity to gain experience directly serving in-need clients through discrete task representation.