Un-bundled legal services

Prospective Client: “I want justice!”

Lawyer: “How much justice can you afford?”

Client: “I make $12 an hour”

Lawyer: “So do I, but I charge $250 an hour because of overhead. I also have a $5,000 insurance deductible if I make a mistake”

Client: “Legal Aid said I make more than $19,000.00 annually so no luck. I can pay you $500 now and $500 in a month or two. My court date is in 3 weeks”

Lawyer: “I can write the Court and ask for a lengthy postponement because an important witness, “Mr. Green” is absent (Lawyer motions in direction of client’s wallet)

Client: “I thought the Charter gave me a right to a lawyer if I get into serious trouble”

Lawyer: “That’s only at the time of arrest,  not for going to court, when you really need one, and not for civil / family / housing cases”

Client: “Can you help?”

Lawyer: “In the past I would limit my retainer, but now there is this new thing called unbundling”

Client: “What’s that?”

Lawyer: “Think of it as hiring your surgeon only for only the most challenging parts of your surgery, and leaving the routine parts such as anesthesia and sewing the incision back up for you to do”

Client: “What a good idea, you do less so you can charge less?”

Lawyer: “Exactly. We do less and have less control so there is a greater chance you will botch up somewhere and make a claim against me. In this way we can increase access to justice for low income people like you”

Client: “Where do I sign?

Lawyer: “Right here. Check off those parts of your lawsuit / crisis that you want me to handle and those parts you will be doing yourself. (Lawyer reviews form with client)

Client: “I’ll chose Pleadings”

Lawyer: “Good choice, that’s $200”

Client: “I’ll chose for you to show up at the court”

Lawyer: “Good choice, but please note that advocacy is extra”

Client: “What’s advocacy?”

Lawyer: “An extra $300…$400 if I know the Judge”

Client: “Nah, I think I’ll skimp on that, I have to cut somewhere”

Lawyer: What about investigation, answering correspondence, and reporting”

Client: “I don’t need all the bells and whistles, here’s $500”

Lawyer: “Thank you. Are you perfectly clear on what unbundled services are your responsibility and what are mine?”

Client: “Absolutely,  it’s all spelled out on the form. Hiring a lawyer was cheaper than I thought!”

Sheldon Tenenbaum