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Profile
"Unbundled" Legal Services Attorney Panel
Northwest Women's Law Center, Washington State

The Northwest Women's Law Center (Law Center) is a private, non-profit organization serving Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. The Law Center does not have any official affiliation with the courts or the bar. The mission of the Law Center is to advance the legal rights of women. 


Who operates the unbundled project?
What does the legal information and referral service do?
Have any ethical issues been raised?
What is the relationship between the Court and the Bar regarding the unbundled project?
Who recruits for the panel?
What is the oversight procedure for the panel?
What types of services do the panel attorneys provide?
Were any changes made to the Rules of Professional Responsibility, Ethics, or Civil Procedure to accommodate the project?
Who refers the clients to the panel?

Who operates the unbundled project?

The unbundled project is part of the Legal Information and Referral Service, which is part of the Law Center's Self Help Program. June Krumpotick, Lead Paralegal coordinates the Self Help Program. The unbundled services referrals are part of the general legal referral service offered by the program.

What does the legal information and referral service do?

The project takes calls from anyone in Washington State. Volunteer attorneys, law students, and paralegals help callers identify issues, give legal information and refer the callers to attorneys in private practice, legal services, and/or self help resources. The project also distributes free written materials drafted by volunteer attorneys on the Self Help Committee.

Have any ethical issues been raised?

Issues have been raised in several forums, including a King County Limited Legal Services workgroup, the statewide Access to Justice Conference, and the statewide Access to Justice Board. Issues include "ghost-writing"; the attorney's lack of control over what a pro se does with the information or document; the right of an attorney to withdraw after appearing at one hearing. See articles written by Barrie Althoff at:
Limiting the Scope of Your Representation: When Your Client Wants, or Can Afford, Only a Part of You, and
Limiting the Scope of Your Representation: Questions of Cost, Candor and Disclosure



What is the relationship between the Law Center and the Bar regarding the unbundled project?

This project does not directly involve the state bar or the court. King County Bar Association (KCBA) staff participated in the King County Limited Legal Services Workgroup and also helped develop a list of attorneys for family law court facilitator offices to share with the public. (The court has since discontinued this list). The KCBA lawyer referral service now also provides referrals for unbundled services. 

Who recruits for the panel?

The recruitment process is the same as for general lawyer referral. When asking attorneys for their permission to list their names on the attorney referral list, they are asked whether or not they would be willing to provide unbundled legal services. See Attorney Referral Application.  The Limited Legal Services Workgroup had talked about writing articles for bar journals and providing a CLE to recruit attorneys, but disbanded before this was accomplished.

What is the oversight procedure for the panel?

The oversight procedure is incorporated into the procedure for regular lawyer referrals. The Law Center solicits feedback from attorneys when they update information on their services. They also respond to caller complaints. So far there have no complaints about limited legal services. The King County Bar Association provided (mandatory) training for attorneys when they first established their panel.

What types of services do the panel attorneys provide?

Panel attorneys provide legal advice/consultation, and preparation and review of court documents, primarily in the area of family law. Some attorneys will provide other brief services, such as attending a deposition or a single court hearing.

Were any changes made to the Rules of Professional Responsibility, Ethics, or Civil Procedure to accommodate the project? 

See the proposed amendments to the rules.

Who refers the clients to the panel?

People call the Legal Information and Referral Line (lawyer referral is only one feature of this line). Volunteers staffing the line are trained to offer unbundled referrals when appropriate. The King County Limited Legal Services Workgroup also prepared a handout on this option for pro se litigants who contact the family law court facilitators; the handout refers people to the Law Center and the King County Bar Association for referrals.