Pro Se Legal Services

On Tuesday I spoke at a Continuing Legal Education program on Pro Se Legal Services, also known as Unbundled Legal Services. I am hoping to inspire more attorneys to offer this type of service (all of the attorneys in our office do).

I like to think of this as the a la carte approach to law. Typically what attorneys offer in litigation situations (like many divorces) is full representation – where the attorney handles all aspects of the case. “Unbundling” refers to taking the bundle of services that constitutes representation and allowing a client to choose which services they can afford and need most. “Pro Se” refers to a client who is representing him or her self, so Pro Se Legal Services is simply assistance we provide to help you represent yourself.

While I do believe clients are better off with full representation, many cannot afford to have us do everything, so these kinds of limited services offers you a way to manage costs and prioritize how to spend limited funds.

Typically these services break down into three categories – drafting, coaching, and limited appearances.

Drafting means that you may hire us to prepare legal documents for you. For instance, you might come in to have us prepare the initial divorce filing documents for you, or you might want us to help you prepare a motion for temporary orders.

Coaching means both giving you legal advice (maybe explaining child support or the difference between separate and community property) and helping you prepare to represent yourself. This might involve explaining court procedure, helping you plan what to say in court, or coaching you on settlement negotiation strategies.

Limited appearances are when we step into represent you for a limit purpose rather than taking on the whole case. You could choose to have us step into the case to represent you at a single motion hearing, or for a settlement conference, and then step back out so that you can continue to represent yourself.