What are unbun­dled legal services?

The phrase “unbun­dled legal ser­vices” has been attrib­uted to UCLA law pro­fes­sor For­rest S. Mosten and his book “Unbundling Legal Ser­vices: A Guide to Deliv­er­ing Legal Ser­vices a la Carte”. An attor­ney unbun­dles ser­vices when he or she engages in lim­ited scope rep­re­sen­ta­tion. The work asso­ci­ated with the legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion is bro­ken down into tasks which are divided between the client and the attor­ney. The client assumes respon­si­bil­ity for the steps he or she under­takes to com­plete, and the attor­ney is only liable for those tasks which he or she has taken on. Unbundling is also called à la carte legal ser­vices, dis­crete task rep­re­sen­ta­tion, or dis­ag­gre­gated legal ser­vices. In New York State, the rules man­date that: (i) “A lawyer may limit the scope of the rep­re­sen­ta­tion if the lim­i­ta­tion is rea­son­able under the cir­cum­stances, the client gives informed con­sent and where nec­es­sary notice is pro­vided to the tri­bunal and/or oppos­ing coun­sel”; and (ii) “The lawyer pro­vid­ing short-term lim­ited legal ser­vices must secure the client’s informed con­sent to the lim­ited scope of the representation […].”

What is the dif­fer­ence between Pro Bono and Lobono (also Lowbono)?

Low­bono is a term derived from pro bono, a latin phrase denot­ing work done by a pro­fes­sional with lit­tle or no pay­ment for the pub­lic good. Low­bono in con­trast is the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices to com­mu­ni­ties that do not have ade­quate access to rep­re­sen­ta­tion at reduced rates com­men­su­rate with their incomes. Low­bono ser­vices are designed to enable low– and middle-income com­mu­ni­ties to take advan­tage of legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion in an eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able manner.

What is a fidu­ciary and why should I care about this legal term?

Fidu­ciary duties can arise when some­one has a posi­tion of power or priv­i­lege with regards to another, such that he or she has (i) a one-sided duty of care and (ii) a higher stan­dard of loy­alty than the law oth­er­wise nor­mally requires. This means that if you are a fidu­ciary, a court may impose upon you forms of account­abil­ity and respon­si­bil­ity sin­gu­larly to the ben­e­fit of another, poten­tially inde­pen­dent of any con­tract in place. Deal­ers, gal­lerists, and auc­tion houses reg­u­larly engen­der fidu­ciary duties by law in the course of their nor­mal busi­ness deal­ings as agents of artists and collectors.

What is mediation?

Alter­na­tive Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion is a spec­trum of pro­ce­dures that are less expen­sive and more time-efficient than lit­i­ga­tion (an out­come pro­duced by trial before a court). ADR is typ­i­cally taken up by court order, a pro­vi­sion of a con­tract, or when the par­ties agree to it. The two most com­mon forms of ADR are arbi­tra­tion (which binds the par­ties) and medi­a­tion (con­sen­sual set­tle­ment). Medi­a­tion is con­fi­den­tial nego­ti­a­tion facil­i­tated by a neu­tral medi­a­tor towards a mutu­ally con­sen­sual out­come. Par­ties to medi­a­tion are invited to dis­cuss all mate­r­ial aspects of a con­flict in a ref­er­eed sit­u­a­tion, where the oppos­ing side under­takes to lis­ten. The par­ties are invited to speak openly in the pres­ence of the other. Lawyers may or may not be present, but their role is typ­i­cally restricted to explain­ing the legal impli­ca­tions of con­tem­plated solu­tions. By work­ing through as many salient issues as pos­si­ble, the medi­a­tion can approach a prob­lem in a mul­ti­di­men­sional way that a court case can­not. Solu­tions can involve mate­r­ial as well as imma­te­r­ial or sym­bolic out­comes. Cre­ative problem-solving tend­ing towards a win-win out­come is favored. Break-out ses­sions with indi­vid­ual par­ties, called cau­cuses, allow for fur­ther explo­ration of under­ly­ing con­fi­den­tial issues. There are three gen­eral lev­els of inter­ven­tion on the part of the medi­a­tor: trans­for­ma­tive (pas­sive encour­age­ment of mutual under­stand­ing, facil­i­ta­tive (re-framing of the posi­tions accord­ing to their strengths and weak­nesses), and eval­u­a­tive (medi­a­tor offers an expert opin­ion about the issues in dis­pute). Medi­a­tion may require sev­eral ses­sions, each of which can typ­i­cally last for three hours. Medi­a­tion for­mats and sched­ul­ing are very flex­i­ble and can be adapted to the par­ties and issues at hand.