What is unbundled legal services/limited-scope representation?
Unbundled legal services/limited scope representation refers to the breaking up of legal representation into separate and distinct tasks. It is the agreement between a lawyer and client that the lawyer will complete or help with specific, identified tasks or parts of a legal matter, and the client will self-represent in the rest of the matter.

A few examples of unbundled legal services include:
  • Ghostwriting 
  • Drafting pleadings, briefs, declarations or orders 
  • Document review 
  • Conducting legal research 
  • Negotiating 
  • Making limited appearances 
  • Advising on court procedures and courtroom behavior 
  • Coaching on strategy or role playing 
  • Preparing exhibits 
  • Organizing discovery materials 
  • Drafting contracts and agreements 
  • Providing legal guidance or opinions 
  • Providing direction to resources such as local and state rules

The civil rules recognize that a lawyer may file a limited notice of appearance for one or more proceedings in an action. This is a summary of the most applicable portions of ethics rules and opinions and other legal authority relevant to the provision of unbundled legal services in Washington state. Unbundling of Legal Service in Washington State document

Practitioners are advised to review the full legal authority on the subjects summarized.

Why do unbundled/limited-scope representation?
Adding limited scope services to a law practice has the potential to provide new revenue for a law firm, especially with the untapped market potential for this form of delivery.

Reasons why some members of the public seek unbundled legal services:

  • They cannot afford to pay for full legal representation.
  • They want the flexibility and convenience that unbundling may give them.
  • They would benefit from alternative fee arrangements, such as the fixed fees and value billing that can accompany unbundled services.
  • They are less intimidated and more comfortable using the Internet to communicate and accomplish their business needs rather than making an appointment at a traditional law office.
  • They live in remote areas or for other reasons

Applicable Rules

Factors to Consider When Unbundling

Resources, Sources and Training Materials