Limited Scope Representation
Limited scope representation allows a client to use the services of an attorney to perform discrete tasks. At the same time, the client remains in control of their case.
According to the American Bar Association, this is also called “unbundled legal services”, “pay as you go legal services” or “a la carte legal services.”
Hiring an attorney to provide full-service representation in a lawsuit can be expensive. This is often because of the many items that occur in a lawsuit that an attorney cannot control.
There are many tasks that the client can perform with proper guidance. An attorney engaged in full-service representation must perform certain tasks. These tasks are what he or she is responsible for.
These tasks include correspondence with the opposing party and the court, managing deadlines, discovery, and preparing for and attending hearings.
Limited scope representation allows the client to handle many of these tasks. They still have access to an attorney to draft documents or provide necessary advice.
This can significantly reduce the attorneys’ fees for a lawsuit. It allows the client to decide what work the attorney will perform and when to seek advice and consultation.
The limited scope services that Fowler St. Clair provides for parties to a lawsuit include:
- drafting court documents
- advice and consultation on an as-needed basis
- coaching to prepare the client to attend a hearing or trial
Types of Cases Provided in Limited Scope Representation
Limited scope representation can applies in a wide variety of cases or situations. Transactional cases are one type of case.
For example, a client may hire an attorney to draft an operating agreement for a limited liability company. The client performs all other tasks to form and establish the limited liability company.
Limited scope services can also be used in the litigation context. A client may decide to represent themselves in a lawsuit.
They need an attorney to draft some of the important pleadings, motions, or related court documents. Or they simply want an attorney available for advice or consultation.
Divorce is another area where limited scope representation is an option. You may not be able to afford a divorce attorney full-time.
Instead, you could hire a lawyer to draft petitions and/or letters for you. These documents are presented in the hearing, which you may choose to attend on your own.
Best Cases for Limited Scope Representation
There are no “best cases” for limited scope representation. Certain cases can prove challenging to handle on your own. Yet, you can still maintain control in these situations:
- In Court: you’re comfortable putting the case together. But standing in front of a judge makes you nervous. You can hire a lawyer to make a “limited scope appearance” in court to argue or present your case on your behalf.
- The opposite: you’re comfortable testifying in court. You don’t know how to draft the proper documents. You don’t feel comfortable communicating with, or drafting and responding to motions against a lawyer. In both cases, a limited scope attorney can help by drafting documents. They will negotiate with the other lawyer on your behalf.
Risks Associated with Limited Scope Representation
As with any legal matter, limited scope representation has its risks. The main risk being that you are far more responsible for what happens.
By choosing limited scope representation, you’ve chosen to handle certain tasks, including strategy, yourself. Some tasks should only fall to a trained attorney.
By handling complicated cases yourself, you run the risk of making mistakes. Some mistakes could have been avoided by letting your lawyer handle them. The more complicated the case, the greater the risks.
FAQs For Limited Scope Representation
1. How does the firm charge for its limited scope services?
If the work involves documents drafting or coaching, the client receives a flat fee. That means the client receives a quoted price for the services before any work begins.
If the work involves advice and consultation, then the client will be charged the attorneys’ hourly rate. The time involved in providing the advice and consultation affects the rate.
Unlike most hourly billing arrangements, the client remains in full control of when they need the attorneys’ advice.
An important note here is that a flat fee for work performed on a limited scope basis is not a discount. When quoting a flat fee, an attorney will estimate the amount of work necessary to complete the project based on the complexity of the issue.
The result could be that the fee quoted is, in some cases, more expensive than if the client was charged by the hour (in a full-service scenario).
2. How can the client provide documents to the attorney who is assisting them on a limited basis?
Fowler St. Clair provides many ways for clients to drop off documents.
Documents may be delivered in-person, by email, facsimile, uploaded into the firm’s practice management system via a client portal, or even by regular mail.
3. By what method can the client communicate with the attorney who is working on their case?
Our attorneys make themselves available to limited scope representation clients the same way they are available to all other clients.
However, unless the client has hired the firm to provide advice and consultation on an ongoing basis, the subject matter of the communications will be limited to discussing the tasks for which the attorney has been hired to perform.
The methods of communication include phone, email, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, and in-person consultations.
4. What if a client is not comfortable representing themselves in court?
Limited scope representation is not for every person or case. If the case is not situated for limited scope representation or if the client is simply not comfortable representing themselves in court, our firm can provide full-service representation.
If the client is not comfortable appearing at a hearing or trial because they feel they do not have the proper experience or training, our firm can provide coaching sessions to help prepare them.
5. Can a client hire the firm to provide limited scope services for their business?
Our firm can provide limited scope services to any business with respect to transaction matters. We can also provide limited scope services to corporations and limited liability companies.
We can provide our services in justice court and in most administrative matters.
Corporations and LLCs require representation by an attorney in superior and federal court. This means that attorneys can only offer full-services to these companies with cases pending in these courts.
6. Is the quality of service or work product of a lower quality with limited scope representation?
No. Our firm dedicates itself to winning trust. We do this by providing exceptional service and quality work.
Clients who employ us to provide limited scope representation are still clients of our firm. They recieve the same treatment as all other clients.
The only difference is that we are performing discrete tasks instead of doing all the work on the matter.
7. What questions should I ask my lawyer?
You should sit down with your lawyer to go over the plan for your case. Have some questions ready so that you have a successful case:
- Who sets the strategy?
- Who gathers the information?
- Who will create the necessary documents?
- Who will stand in court?
- Who will try to settle with the other party outside of the court?
- Who communicates with the opposing side?
8. What if I want my lawyer to take full control of the case?
You may get overwhelmed with handling parts of the case. Your case may be more complicated than you thought. Your lawyer can take over the full case for you.
All you need to do is come to a new agreement with them. Staying with your first lawyer will be better in the long run.
Getting a new lawyer up to speed will take time and is often very costly. Your original lawyer already knows the case and can take over.
9. How can I meet with an attorney to determine if limited scope representation will work for my case?
Our firm offers consultations for a flat fee of $250. We analyze the case, explain limited scope representation in more detail, and determine whether the case is appropriate for limited scope representation.
To schedule a consultation, simply provide our firm with your contact information. We will contact you to find a time that best suits your schedule.