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Recommendations from the State Bar of Michigan's Access to Justice
for All Task Force

FINDINGS OF UNBUNDLING BENEFITS - The Work Group determined that unbundling was worthy of a favorable recommendation, as the benefits to be derived by low and middle income clients are significant.  These benefits include:  provides for the ability to obtain advise, drafting, limited representation, and other limited assistance from an attorney, affordability, enhanced, meaningful access to the legal system, heightened possibility of success for self-help litigants, empowerment of clients beyond that which passive recipients of legal systems are experiencing.

 1.      Promote Unbundling

The Access to Justice Task Force should work to promote unbundling, and should disseminate the Work Group to report to:  Access to Justice Task Force members and Bar leadership throughout the state, the Michigan Supreme Court, the Judicial Association, the State Court Administrative Office, every legal services program in the state—regardless of the programs  

2.   Modify Michigan Court Rules 2.114 and 2.117 should be modified to allow an attorney and client to enter into an agreement limiting the scope of an attorney’s representation to the objectives stated in the agreement.  The Workgroup drafted language that should be included in the rule

        If a pleading, including a form, has been prepared by an attorney, law firm, or legal services agency, which has not appeared formally in the case, the pleading shall indicate the name of the attorney, law firm, or legal services agency that prepared the pleading or form.  Such full disclosure does not constitute an appearance by the attorney in the proceeding.

An attorney may, upon written agreement with the attorney’s client, enter an appearance limited in objectives and means.  The attorney who has filed a limited appearance may withdraw from the action when the client’s limited objectives, as set forth in the appearance, have been reached. 

This recommendation would not permit an attorney to “withdraw at will” from a court case.  These additions would require that the attorney:  1.  execute a retainer agreement limiting the scope of representation by establishing specific objectives and the means to be employed in achieving those objectives, and 2. withdraw only after achieving the named objectives.

3.      Support Unbundling

To support and encourage widespread public acceptance and support of unbundling, the Work Group recommends that the State Bar of Michigan should:  provide free ethical education to attorneys desiring to provide unbundling services, work with existing and future lawyer referral and information services (LRIS’s) to maintain and distribute lists of trained attorneys willing to deliver unbundling services, provide model retainer agreements to attorneys who wish to provide unbundled legal services, and promote in legal (and later general) media how unbundling has been accepted and resulted in benefit to attorneys and individuals in other states.

Reproduced from:

State Bar of Michigan’s Access To Justice For All Task Force – Service Delivery Subcommittee Work Group B – Unbundling April, 2000

By: Kari Deming, Tent Cahill, Sharon Deja, Mary Ellen Drolet, Marylin Klawiter, Donald Reisig, Mary Ann Sarosi, Hon. Chad Schumucker, Bradley A. Vauter, Richard Winder

Unbundling is defined by Work Group B as the “provision of discrete legal services or individual legal tasks by an attorney, on behalf of, and at the request of, a client.” This differs from traditional legal representation in that an attorney providing unbundled service is not ethically bound to handle matters that are presented in the course of litigation. Its work was considered closely aligned with the concept of self-help litigation, which another work group was studying.  The charge of Work Group B was to assure the “subsidized (free or reduced fee) civil legal services are provided to those in greatest need in a quality, comprehensive, and integrated delivery system”.

State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St.
Lansing, MI 48933-2083