Putting Unbundled Legal Services Online

An attorney may provide unbundled legal services with a virtual law office as the sole method of delivering legal services to clients, or a virtual law practice may be added to an existing law office as an amenity to in-person client or as a method of pulling in additional revenue from a separate online client base.

There is a great deal of flexibility in the way that a virtual law practice may be structured to provide unbundled services online.

As an example of how unbundling online might work, an attorney whose practice centers on litigation may use a virtual law practice to generate additional client revenue by answering basic traffic ticket questions while maintaining a full-service litigation practice. The same attorney might use the virtual law practice technology to provide homepages to existing clients that he or she meets with and allow those clients to pay bills online, communicate with a more secure method than email and use the virtual law office as an amenity to the full-service firm. However, the attorney may chose not to use the technology to handle his or her litigation clients.

Another example might be an attorney who decides to enter retirement from a full-service law firm by creating a virtual law practice that handles only transactional legal services, such as drafting estate. This would allow the attorney to work remotely or from home allowing him or her to ease into retirement or create a completely new online law practice that allows for a better work/life balance.

Similar to full-service representation, the attorney must use his or her judgment on a case by case basis when deciding whether he or she may competently provide unbundled legal services online. If the client’s needs would be better suited to a firm providing full-service representation, then it is the attorney’s responsibility to refer the online client to another practice.

Next up:  Avoiding Malpractice Risks When Providing Online Unbundled Legal Services

(photo: Sheila Steele)


  1. How does a virtual law firm differ from a law firm with a web presence? Is it simply that the lawyer does not have an office? Why can’t a lawyer who does civil litigation simply create another website to handle traffic tickets.

    Please enlighten me.

  2. Avatar Michael says:

    My understanding of the term related more to organizational features than technology-Such as a partnership that didn’t have any common ‘home’ office. The tech was a means of tying them together, not the focus.

    And, it sounds cooler.

    My real question relates to unbundling-Lawyers have long opened practices that are limited in scope (and rule 1.1 requiring competency of a lawyer in what they do would suggest that more lawyers should think about such limits). I don’t see what’s new about that. I thought ‘unbundling’ was more subtle-It makes more sense in a litigation world. I could offer, under my attorney shingle, a service where I’ll do some aspect of your litigation like research and draft a brief, but can disclaim responsibility for other aspects of that litigation. Or something like that. In short, it’s opening a discussion of whether lawyers can at least partially disclaim liability, which as we all know is currently impossible short of declining to enter into an attorney/client relationship in the first place. That’s a more provocative discussion…

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