Choosing between a full-time lawyer and bundled services

Traditionally, someone who wanted a lawyer had no choice but to consult with one, and pay a sizable retainer. Small cases were either refused as not worth the effort or over-billed by charging a full lawyer rate for paralegal or even secretarial time. This model is dying, as more people learn more about the law and more traditional clients start to request itemized billing. Bundled legal services emerged as an alternative: Rather than paying for a lawyer’s full services over the course of a case, clients could choose to buy only the legal products they thought they needed. RocketLawyer and Zoom Legal, both of which Verbeck Law is listed in, pioneered these services, and fought a long legal battle against the Bar in many states to make this sort of legal service available.


Nevertheless, there remains a place for a fully retained attorney; some cases are inescapably long and complicated, and some clients feel better having a lawyer they can call whenever a new problem arises, and a lawyer who will represent them every step of the way. Deciding between these two options can be confusing, and in this post I hope to illustrate the factors you should consider when making your choice. Verbeck Law offers a great number of exact-price legal documents, but we also accept conventional retainer cases, and so we can help you out whichever you choose.


Bundled Legal Services


Bundled legal services are legal documents, consultations, and other products that have a clear price tag attached. If you know you want a partnership agreement, and what a partnership agreement does, hire us to draft a good one. We talk to you and your partners, draft the document, revise if necessary, and when everyone’s happy with it, we all shake hands and go on our way. No big retainer, no unwanted and expensive advice on peripheral issues, no bill-padding, easy-peasy. This is ideal for the client comfortable with the legal field, who knows what document they need and wants to make sure it’s done right.


Bundled legal services also include consultations, in which you and your lawyer talk for an hour, or two, or four, about your case. Your lawyer will explain to you what’s happening with the case now, the importance of where it’s going, and what’s going to happen next. You can arrange for your attorney to review documents, and to recommend documents that you should file next. You can of course have us prepare recommended documents after a consultation, in which case we give you a break on the price, or you can just get some solid education and advice, and decide for yourself if you need any more help later. This is ideal for a client who’s been served with papers, isn’t very experienced with the legal system, but isn’t sure they need or can afford a full-time attorney.


Full Retainer Cases


Some cases effectively require a full-time attorney, which means an attorney paid at an agreed-upon hourly rate. Our pages on fully retained attorneys lay out how this works, but basically, you should consider a fully retained attorney if your case is very complicated, involves multiple types of law, or if the idea of going to court or dealing with an opposing lawyer scares the pants off you. A fully retained attorney represents you at everything, prepares all the motions your case needs, and engages expert witnesses if your case can benefit from one. We also pride ourselves on having attorneys comfortable in multiple fields, so you can use an attorney you trust for mixed-law cases.


If you have a divorce case with children, significant amounts of property, or allegations of abuse or domestic violence, you should strongly consider a fully retained attorney, if you can afford it. Custody fights are often particularly bitter, and cases with criminal allegations require an attorney comfortable in both family law and criminal law. If you have complicated forms of property, like real estate or equity accounts, you should fully retain an attorney, both because those cases are complicated and because a good attorney can save you more than his or her price by getting you a better settlement.


Finally, if you’re terrified of court, or if you’re scared of your former partner or their attorney, you should consider a full-time attorney. A full-time attorney can stand between you and the court, or an unfriendly lawyer, or an intimidating or vindictive partner. Having representation whenever you need it will make the legal system much easier and calmer to handle, and the wide experience of our attorneys in family, criminal, and mental health law means we are not intimidated.


However, if you’re comfortable with the idea of going to court yourself, and just want a little expert direction or a crucial document done right, check out our price menu, or email us about your situation and we'll give you a quote.