MN Unbundled Law Project: A New Era in Limited Scope Representation

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The Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA), with Hennepin and Ramsey County Bar Association partners, are pleased to announce the new Minnesota Unbundled Law Project. The project is now available for clients and referrals at www.MNunbundled.org. Also known as limited scope representation, “unbundled” legal services allow an attorney and a client to customize legal services according to the client’s needs and budget. Services could be limited to a certain issue in a case, legal advice, review of court documents, or coaching a client who will provide self-representation.

The benefits of unbundled representation extend to both clients and attorneys. By paying an attorney to do only parts of a case where legal expertise is needed, the client saves money on legal fees and attorneys can use their time more efficiently. Time and energy are maximized for both parties because the attorney can provide information about the legal process and the client’s specific issues, in addition to identifying potential problems or hidden complications earlier in the process.

Those looking for unbundled referrals can get started at the Project’s website, www.MNunbundled.org, and find more information about what types of services they may want to hire an attorney to perform, as well as what to consider when deciding if unbundled representation is right for them.

The MSBA’s pro bono development director, Steve Marchese, in noting the importance of the project, said: “The Minnesota Unbundled Law Project brings together the work of the state’s largest bar organizations to increase access to limited scope/unbundled legal services for all Minnesotans. It provides an easily accessible platform for clients interested in more affordable legal options to connect with the attorneys interested in assisting them. We look forward to studying the results of this pilot so we can expand service to more people and more areas of practice throughout the state.”

Attorneys interested in being a participating provider can contact Steve Marchese directly at smarchese@mnbar.org.

Statewide Low Fee Family Law Project Now Accepting Referrals

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Last fall, the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) and the Hennepin County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (HCBA LRIS) began a collaboration to expand the existing HCBA LRIS Low Fee Family Law Project to include service throughout Minnesota. Both organizations have recruited attorneys from across the state to participate and continue to encourage participation from attorneys interested in serving modest-means clients. Potential clients are those who exceed legal aid income guidelines and are not eligible for pro bono legal services, yet cannot afford the services of a private attorney.

Because of the great initial response, HCBA LRIS is now able to handle referrals for eligible clients from legal aid programs. Programs may direct clients to contact HCBA LRIS at 612-752-6666 and find more information on the LRIS website

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LRIS staff members screen clients by phone for initial financial eligibility. In order to qualify for services, potential clients must be currently employed, or on Social Security, and have an income source that falls between 125-250% of the federal poverty guidelines. Clients pay a billable rate of $55 per hour. There is a required retainer of $500, and a $30 administrative fee paid by the client.

Why participate as a provider?

Interested attorneys can build their practices through the project or expand their practice to include alternative fee arrangements. Attorneys are particularly needed in the northeast and northwest areas of greater Minnesota. Attorneys can receive new business in the following areas: separation or divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity and child support, domestic abuse and Orders for Protection, and post decree issues.

Specifically, the project seeks to expand the number of attorneys providing unbundled (or limited scope) legal services. Numerous resources exist to help attorneys build unbundled practice into their service mix. For more information, including sample billing and retainer forms, see the MSBA website at www.mnbar.org/unbundled. Attorneys can contact Dana Rindahl at dana@hcba.org or call 612-752-6627 for additional information about how to apply.

Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) Attorney Receives Pro Bono Publico Award

Tom Walsh, staff attorney with the Volunteer Lawyers Network

Tom Walsh, staff attorney with the Volunteer Lawyers Network

Each year, the Hennepin County Bar Association recognizes outstanding volunteerism and pro bono service in the legal profession with its Pro Bono Publico Awards. Three awards focusing on distinguished service and excellence for public and private attorneys are given to honor and encourage contributions to the community.

This year's Pro Bono Publico Award of Excellence for a Public Attorney goes to Tom Walsh, staff attorney with the Volunteer Lawyer's Network (VLN). Details about Walsh's exemplary work and inspirational accomplishments are featured in the current edition of The Hennepin Lawyer. Congratulations to Tom on this well-deserved honor, as well as to James Long, and Don McNeil, who were also recognized for their commitment to pro bono service this year.