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How do you find legal help on an unbundled basis?

Apex, NC |

If someone needs a business attorney with litigation experience but does not believe the dispute justifies the continued expense of full representation, how do they find a lawyer or paralegal willing to work as a coach on an unbundled or a la carte basis? Call it legal coaching, limited scope representation, discrete task representation, or whatever you like.

Assume they have a strong case they're willing to chance losing some points on as long as their opponent won't be continually suffocating them in legal fees, but they also feel like they can spend a very limited budget on advice and other assistance at key points. Aside from giving in and settling with the other side or convincing them to mediate, what options or services are there out there other than full service?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Call state bar and ask for a referral.

    Use Avvo 'find a lawyer' option.

    You will have to call a lot of attorneys to find one willing to work as you describe. The responsibilities imposed by law are too profound, the risk of losing a license too great, the pay-off way too small.

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.


  2. You don't have a good understanding of what you are getting into. First, you would never use a paralegal as a source of advice. That is not allowed on the lawyer's end and is foolish for the "client." Secondly, the law is way too complicated in most areas for you as a person who is uneducated in law to effectively handle litigation without a lawyer. You would have to know civil procedure and evidence law in addition to the substantive law of the dispute, and a lawyer acting as your informal background advisor could not possibly prepare you for anything that may come up.

    This answer is intended as general information and not as specific legal advice. If you want to have a free consultation with me, please contact me through AVVO.


  3. There are attorneys who do offer these kind fo services, but there are not very many. The main thing you need to know right up front is that if your business is incorporated, you have to have a lawyer if your case is in court. Corporations are not allowed to appear "pro se" (without a lawyer), so unbundled representation is impossible for many businesses.

    The other attorneys are correct in that a paralegal cannot provide the services you want because that is the unauthorized practice of law. You should be able to find an attorney who will charge you a reasonable initial consultation fee and give you an estimate of how much it will cost to accomplish what you want.

    This message is intended for informational purposes only. It is impossible to consider all relevant facts from a message board question. No attorney-client relationship has been created. Readers should seek a personal legal consultation with an attorney of their choice for the most accurate advice. I offer a free consultation by phone or e-mail.


  4. You don't make it clear that your dispute involves actual litigation. For many of the reasons mentioned above many lawyers would be reluctant to 'coach' someone who may be about to make a serious mistake in a pending court case. While you may possibly find a lawyer to assist you with something very specific like discovery or legal research, your best course in a pending court case is to either hire a lawyer or seek a court ordered mediation. Otherwise ask yourself "what do I have to lose?" and understand that you may well do just that.

    If the dispute is simply a negotiation about threatened litigation, and you have brought the matter this far, then you can certainly seek a legal consultation to explain your situation, ask specific questions, and perhaps find out about questions you forgot to ask.

    The key in either case is to remember that you are the one employing the lawyer. While you can't require her to work for you, it is your perogative to define in as much detail as you like the scope of the work and how much it will cost. Require a written engagement agreement for anything more than a brief one-time consultation and revise it as often as you feel necessary. That agreement is one of the best ways to control cost.

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