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The Future of Unbundled Legal Services

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Attorney Forrest Mosten, also known as the Father of Unbundling, has a dream.

One day, clients will come to lawyers for legal help. But first lawyers must offer limited scope services as an option.

So it's not a paradisiacal dream with seascapes and sunsets, but we're supposed to be working here. And who knows, maybe in the future we will all dream of representing clients on a limited basis.

Unbundled Now

Mosten revealed his dream on the Legal Talk Network, where he described his long experience with limited scope legal services. He said the idea started to germinate in the 1970s, when consumers wanted realtors to provide flat-fee services rather than full-tilt commissioned services.

Two decades later, when he was serving on an ABA committee studying unrepresented litigants, he put it together. "Why don't we unbundle legal services?" he suggested.

That idea became a reality as many lawyers and courts now encourage limited scope services. But Mosten's dream that lawyers first advise clients about limited scope, not so much. Legal Talk host Sam Glover said some lawyers still object to unbundling.

"Most of the time it's like anything else, it's 'what I'm doing seems fine to me and so I don't really need to do anything different,'" he said. "That seems like the biggest enemy of progress to me."

Unburdened Later

Mosten says lawyers should unbundle to help clients who cannot afford full-scale legal representation. And, he said, it can help lawyers who don't want to pay full-scale malpractice insurance.

"Lawyer's Mutual, one of the most prominent malpractice insurance companies in California has done a major educational effort to get their lawyers, their policy holders, to unbundle and you can guess why," he said. "Almost no claims."

In the future, Mosten says clients will demand unbundling from lawyers. Unbundling-friendly legislation, cases and court rules will be enacted. The ABA will require it. Law schools will teach it.

The future for unbundling is "unlimited," he says.

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