My “Law Coach” or My Lawyer?
Unbundled Legal Services
“My ‘law coach’ or my lawyer?” It this a trick question? Not really, but there is a difference. Let’s say you have a divorce or custody case; or, that you, or you and your estranged partner, just want some guidance and help in getting through your legal problem. What do you do?
Repeat after me: “You should not be your own lawyer if you can possibly afford to hire a lawyer to represent you!”
If you’ve read any of my stuff, you know that’s a theme I harp on. But, I recognize that some people simply cannot afford “record counsel”, and some are skeptical or even a tad arrogant or ignorant of the perils of self-representation. I have a product for these folks. I call it “unbundling of legal services”. Some lawyers are not ready to venture into this area, but, with my 46 years of experience, I have posted 350 blog articles, over 1200 pages. Many of them constitute tutorials or templates for things every litigant should know. That is a rich content resource that I can guide you through. I do not accept “canned” or “guest” blog articles.
“Unbundling” sometimes has a component of “ghost writing”. A proposed parenting plan, property settlement agreement, final order, or petition or counter-petition, is not that hard to do. A “ghostwriter” can do them “on the cheap” if the author is not also becoming your record counsel. It is not representation, but it helps you “ante up”, like in poker. The “Family Court Rules” require the filing of certain key documents. Your “coach” can help make sure they are “up to snuff”.
We try to provide the party who just cannot afford any more than $500 at least $1000 worth of information and training in “the rules of the game”. I accept a reasonable number of follow up calls, and, so long as you haven’t screwed up your case too badly, I will often remain available to be retained.
For the skeptic, I try to show the risk benefit of hiring me for full representation. Perhaps 50% of such clients eventually hire me, getting credit for the first $500 payment. And, for those who do not, it’s the same rule. I may be willing to take on the representation if you have not screwed it up too badly. Warning, the original quoted retainer may no longer be possible if you are trying to undo an adverse ruling or development.
We have handouts about how to involve the other party in the lives of the children while looking good to the Court, how to enforce your agreement, and how to negotiate a divorce settlement. We have informational articles on equitable distribution, alimony, custody, retirement benefits, essential insurance coverages, a “legal check-up”, mediation, and myriad other topics. So, if you can’t hire a lawyer, consider paying “a law coach” for a good, but more narrowly defined, product. It’s certain to be better than “Zegal Zoom” or “AVVO”.
While no lawyer can represent both sides, a trained and experienced mediator can meet with both parties and draft a variety of documents, agreements, parenting plans, and even pleadings. He/she must meet ethical standards, but for parties who have differences, but not severe dysfunction, this low-cost option at least allows you a full veto, while a contested hearing does not. There is no agreement unless BOTH parties to mediation sign and the courts approves there agreement.
The concept of self-represented mediation is the same as “unbundling of legal services”. It is a way to get quick results, if not perfectly tailored, while keeping many options open if things turn nasty.
Please call, 304 472-7477, or write, firstname.lastname@example.org , if you have any questions!
This post was written by Burton Hunter