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September 4, 2003

Un-Bundle of Joy: A Win-Win for Lawyer and Client

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:36 pm

Law Practice Management Magazine features an excellent article by unbundling guru Forrest S. Mosten, called “What’s the Big Deal About Unbundling.” (July/August 2003; reprinted in Utah State Bar Journal) Mosten explains that performing discrete tasks for clients is nothing new. He then goes on to argue that unbundling will meet the needs of a new breed of clients, who are uncomfortable with the traditional model of the lawyer as High Priest and who “are no longer willing to be treated like children:”

“Today, clients are more active, more educated in the art of “clienthood,” more inquisitive and more demanding in their quest to control the purchase and supervision of legal services.

“Unbundling meets the needs of this new breed of client. In contrast to the traditional attitude that client anxiety is somehow reduced by a lack of information and attention, unbundling empowers the client in an unbundled case. The client is the architect of the scope and tenor of the relationship — the one who decides how the case is to be managed and what role, if any, the lawyer will play. Even more novel — the lawyer not only agrees to this power shift but invites the public to enter the office on that basis.”

In addition to detailing the benefits unbundling brings to clients (cost savings, control over the process and over choices), Mosten explains why unbundling can also improve profitability and satisfaction for the lawyer. For those who wonder how unbundling works, the article gives Suzanne Burn’s list of the steps in a typical unbundled client-lawyer relationship.

Mosten’s article is a must for any lawyer or firm that is open to the concept of unbundling, but isn’t sure if the process is a good fit or just needs a good push. It’s even more important for the firm that has rejected the idea up until now as unworkable or undesirable financially and professionally. For those who want to know more, the ABA Law Practice Management Section has published Mosten’s book Unbundling Legal Services: A Guide to Delivering Legal Services a la Carte (2000).

  • Richard Granat at eLawyerBlog has been experimenting with offering unbundled services on his own website. It’s worth a look.

1 Comment

  1. […]  At a time when many lawyers are still unreasonably reluctant to engage openly in discrete-task lawyering (see ethicalEsq’s posting No Need for Unbundlephobia), it’s great to see a respected jurist praise unbundling.  There is still much to be done to get out the message that unbundling holds advantages for both lawyer and client, and can be practiced without running afoul of ethics rules or malpractice liability.  But, the tide is turning (e.g., the recent Arizona Bar ethics opinion on limited scope representation [#06-03, July 2006], which approved a lawyer, in appropriate situations, limiting services to ghostwriting a pleading, coaching the client, or appearing at a deposition — so long as the lawyer “direct[s] the client to be truthful and candid in the client’s activities”).   […]

    Comment by shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress » Blog Archive » retiring iowa chief justice praised for access efforts — October 2, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

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