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Carolyn Elefant

I have long argued that while economics are a catalyst to the the DIY consumer, technology has been the real game changer. WIth access to easy information, consumers are more empowered. In addition, a new generation of consumers - like my daughters - are accustomed to turning to the Internet for information as second nature. When my family was thinking about cruise trips to take, my 13 you went online and found different trips with prices and ratings. Same when she bought a camera with her birthday money - she researched products and read reviews rather than going to the store to test them out. It's that change in attitude that will allow unbundled services to succeed where they have previously failed.
I have no problem with unbundling in theory, and certainly, it makes sense for discrete matters like LLCs, wills, leases, etc...But I think for ongoing matters, it will pose some challenges and cause us to rethink out ethics obligations. For example, what happens in a case where a lawyer burns through his fee, then withdraws and leaves the client to rely on unbundled coaching services. Is that a result that we want? It will be more likely where unbundling is sanctioned. Likewise, what happens if we are retained to "coach" a client for an appearance in court. If an issue comes up at trial that we didn't explain to the client and it leads to a loss, do we open ourselves up to malpractice exposure? I do not think any of these issues are insurmountable, but they will require some real soul searching. Yes, I know that unbundling is not new, it has been around for decades, but sanctioning it on a large scale is quite a different proposition from permitting it on a limited, ad hoc basis. I am not sure if our profession is up to the challenge.

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