I believe that providing unbundled legal services in Australia may be one way to provide better access to these services for small businesses. According to Harvard Journal of Law & Technology Occasional Paper Series dated February 2013 – Using Technology to Unbundle in the Legal Services Community by Stephanie Kimbro (“the Harvard Journal“), there is a recent movement of online law firms providing unbundled legal services in the US that could help solve the access to justice problem in that country.
Unbundling, also known as ‘limited-scope services’, ‘a la carte legal services’, ‘discrete task representation’, or ‘disaggregated legal services’ means the provision of legal services broken down by task. The client is provided representation or advice in relation to a clearly defined portion of their legal needs, with the client undertaking the rest. This reduces cost and allows a client to pay for services only as needed throughout each stage of an advice life-cycle.
Examples of unbundling include document drafting and legal form preparation using technology to handle aspects of the drafting, ghostwriting, and legal coaching and strategy.
With the emergence of new forms of technology facilitating online legal services, the Harvard Journal suggests that the legal profession in the US is on the brink of a fundamental change in the way that both professionals and the public evaluate how legal assistance is provided. This is currently a very hot topic for the US legal profession.
Australia will need to keep up, as using cloud-based technology appears the natural next step for expansion in the legal profession in Australia. Unfortunately, similarly to the US (according to the Harvard Journal), in Australia searching online is not the primary method of selecting legal representation. Therefore unbundled options delivered online through the use of technology may be off the radar for many seeking legal services.
It is therefore essential that law firms in Australia start to move forward quickly to accept unbundling as a standard legal service and to find ways to integrate technology into how they deliver services to their clients. LAWYAL Solicitors has already taken this leap by providing end-to-end online legal services using bespoke cloud-based software and offering fixed quotes and unbundled legal services to Australian businesses.
New developments in technology and cloud-computing allow us to more efficiently provide unbundled services where the cost of developing and maintaining the LAWYAL software can be spread out over a larger number of users. This allows for a reduced end-cost to clients.
New innovations in the delivery of unbundled legal services are on the horizon in Australia, so I believe the legal services community should embrace this, as LAWYAL has.
By Leonie Chapman, Principal Lawyer and Director, LAWYAL Solicitors
© 2013 LAWyal Pty Ltd