Our court system is lengthy, document intensive and complicated. Many of those in court are representing themselves. It’s a difficult challenge to understand court procedure, keep up with the documentation and court appearances especially if there is a lawyer on the other side, but even in cases where neither party has a lawyer.
Much of the work that we perform as family lawyers involves a “full retainer” ie., we are hired to represent our client in the entire court proceeding and our name goes on the court documentation as lawyer of record. We are finding however that a number of self-represented individuals seek to use our services for specific portions of their case. In other words they are not hiring us for the whole “bundle” of services but only for a selected portion or portions. We “unbundle” the complete package and deal with only the tasks that we are asked to consult on. Some of the unbundled services are described below:
1. Preparing the initial court documentation (for example: the Application, Answer, Custody/Access Affidavit, or Financial Statement.
2. Preparing documentation to bring or defend a motion.
3. Advice regarding specific correspondence from the opposing party.
4. Help with creating or updating your financial statement.
5. Help with creating or updating your net family property statement.
6. Preparation for a case conference or settlement conference including briefs and other documentation.
7. Attending the conference.
8. Attending the motion.
9. Organizing the documents in your file in a way that you can access them quickly.
10. Coaching advice or strategy regarding your case.
11. Preparing for trial.
12. Preparing for questioning.
13. Help with making or responding to settlement proposals.
14. Research of law.
15. Support calculations or net family property calculations.
16. Overall evaluation of your case.
Depending on the particular unbundled task, we will be able to give you an estimate of the time taken and the cost, on an hourly basis. Because we are not being hired to be handle your entire case, but only a selected portion or portions, we may not be able to give you comprehensive and complete advice as if we were your lawyers of record. Nonetheless, using our services to help you with selected portions of your case is an effective and economical way for self-represented individuals to navigate their way through the court system.