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Profile
"Unbundled" Legal Services Attorney Panel
Contra Costa County, California

The Contra Costa County Lawyer Referral Service Panel  is targeted to begin in the fall of 2002. The panel coordinators are currently speaking to the California State Bar LRS provider to ensure that there will be adequate coverage. They are also in the process of getting their training materials, brochures, and other pamphlets organized and printed.

Who operates the unbundled project?
What does the Self-Service Center do?

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 clients to the panel?


Who operates the unbundled project?
The Contra Costa County Bar Association operates the unbundled project. It is not in conjunction with the court or family law section, but through the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). Initially, it will be run as a pilot program to be reevaluated at a later date.  The LRS will run the project in a manner consistent with the operation of its other panels.

What does the Self-Service Center do?
There is no self-service center that is related to this panel. The family law coordinators have a list of unbundled attorneys to which they refer clients on a regular basis. Interviewers who refer callers will have checklist to go through that will insure that a caller is an appropriate person to receive unbundled legal services. All callers must fit certain qualifications before being referred to an unbundled legal service attorney.

Callers that are referred to an attorney on the unbundled panel pay $30 for a one- time consultation fee and the arrangements for further services are made between the potential client and the attorney.

What is the relationship between the Court and the Bar regarding the unbundled project?
No direct relationship exists between the Court and the Bar Association for this project. However, the purpose of the panel is to alleviate the pressure on family law court staff and judges and facilitators office, and to provide a needed service for family law litigants in Contra Costa County. In California, statistics show that in 50% of family law cases, both of the parties appear pro se. 

The panel is an alternative for family law facilitators and self- help clinics. 

The Bench has made it known that they are in full support of the panel and unbundled family law. The judges feel it will help alleviate the number of unprepared and untrained pro se litigants in the court. The bench's support is obviously reassuring to the attorneys, who will not have to be concerned with being pulled into full representation, etc.

Who recruits for the panel?
Currently there is no open recruitment because the program is a pilot program. 

The program started with list of attorneys from family facilitators, who had previously been trained on Unbundled law (each attorney took a three hour MCLE course with Sue Talia in 1998). An initial survey was sent to each attorney on the list, asking for feedback, concerns, and asked if attorneys hadinterest in being an Unbundled LRS Panelist.  Currently, each panelist will be required to complete a statement of qualifications, in which they must have been in practice for five (5) years, successfully completed a three (3) hour training course, represented at least three (3) unbundled clients, provide current proof of liability insurance (that covers unbundling), and be in good standing with the State Bar and CCCBA. 

There will be an additional training session in June delivered by Sue Talia, updating the attorneys on unbundled law ethics and current trends. At that time, the Bar Association will consider recruiting additional qualified panelists from the three hour training session. All additional panelists must qualify according the current Statement of Qualifications.

After the pilot is up and running for a few months, they may open recruitment. 

What is the oversight procedure for the panel? 
No separate oversight procedure has or will be scheduled. The panel works in conjunction with the Lawyer Referral Service and is not being run as a separate entity, thus it follows Lawyer Referral Service oversight procedures which include a peer review program and complaint forms, LRS Committee procedures, etc.

What types of services do the panel attorneys provide?
It is up to the attorney and the client based on clients needs: simple document review, "ghostwriting", limited court representation, etc. There will be a lengthy interview so the client understands what unbundling is and is aware of the pros/cons, payment, etc. The attorney will explain the services s/he could provide and the client and attorney will analyze the legal needs of the client. 

Were any changes made to the Rules of Professional Responsibility, Ethics, or Civil Procedure to accommodate the project?
California does not currently have any rules that focus on the issues surrounding limited representation. The Bar has looked at different states' rules and looked at other California counties' (including Los Angeles) rules. Contra Costa has shaped its program according to other rules.

Who refers clients to the panel?
Lawyer Referral Service of the Contra Costa County Bar.