Family Law, Unbundled Legal Services

Limited Scope Legal Services

Unbundled Legal Services

How Expensive are Lawyers?

Expensive. Can you find a cheap lawyer? Yes, but it is not best. Can you hire one to do only a small amount of the work and save some money? Yes! How? Limited Scope Representation.

What Is Limited Scope Representation?

Limited scope representation (or unbundled legal service) allows a lawyer and client to agree that responsibility for certain parts of a case will be distributed between the lawyer and client.  For example, the lawyer may draft a divorce complaint or provide legal advice before the client attends a hearing, while the client is responsible for the remaining aspects of the case.

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How Does This Benefit You?

Clients seeking limited scope representation receive pricing that reflects exactly the scope of work they require.  Perhaps you need help filing a case, or would like legal advice before responding to a letter or signing a contract.  Maybe you just need an attorney to show up for a hearing?

In each instance, the work is well-defined and a specific price is paid for THAT step in the process.  While the price of  these steps will reflect the attorney's effort, they are generally (often significantly) less expensive than the usual full-service attorney arrangement.  You, remain in control, you may only need help in one or more phases of your matter and you retain the option to expand representation at any time.  Perhaps you only need help at points 1, 3 and 6 in a 6-step process?  Wouldn't you prefer to pay for only 3 steps?

Even better, your matter may not require court action at all.  More than a few issues have been resolved when a an unrepresented party receives a letter from an attorney's office.  Paying a flat fee for a "mean lawyer letter" just might  avoid a painful, long-term process.

How Does This Benefit The Court?

Self-represented parties ("pro se" litigants) often proceed haphazardly through the legal process, assuming one party knows how to start the process.  One or both parties may be unclear how to proceed, unaware of the proper documents to file or how to react if the other side seeks legal advice.

We all know court dockets are full and judges are busy.  Providing well-drafted, correct documents and understanding how to proceed through a matter can significantly improve efficiency, reduce everyone's frustration and be the difference in a successful and timely outcome.

What Changed?

The following Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure were amended on December 14, 2017 by the Arkansas Supreme Court (opinion):

Rule 11 Signing of Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers; Sanctions.

Part (c) now allows

  • attorneys "...to draft a pleading, motion, or other paper filed by an otherwise self-represented person" as long as a proper notation is included at the end of the document "“This document was prepared with the assistance of [insert name of attorney], a licensed Arkansas lawyer, pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c).” "

Rule 64. Addition and Withdrawal of Counsel.

(a) When additional counsel is employed to represent any party in a case, said counsel shall immediately cause the clerk to enter his or her name as an attorney of record in the case and shall also immediately notify the court and opposing counsel that he or she has been employed in the case.

(b) Except as provided in Rule 87 of these rules, a lawyer may not withdraw from any proceeding or from representation of any party to a proceeding without permission of the court in which the proceeding is pending. Permission to withdraw may be granted for good cause shown if counsel seeking permission presents a motion therefor to the court showing counsel (1) has taken reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the client, including giving due notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel; (2) has delivered or stands ready to tender to the client all papers and property to which the client is entitled; and (3) has refunded any unearned fee or part of a fee paid in advance, or stands ready to tender such a refund upon being permitted to withdraw.

Rule 87. Limited Scope Representation.

(a) Permitted. In accordance with Rule 1.2(c) of the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney may provide limited scope representation to a person involved in a court proceeding.

(b) Notice. An attorney’s role may be limited as set forth in a notice of limited scope representation filed and served prior to or simultaneously with the initiation of a proceeding or initiation of representation, as applicable. Such notice shall not be required in matters where an attorney’s representation consists solely of the drafting of pleadings, motions, or other papers for an otherwise self-represented person as provided in subdivision (c) of this rule.

(c) Drafting of Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers.

(1) An attorney may draft or help to draft a pleading, motion, or other paper filed by an otherwise self-represented person. The attorney shall include a notation at the end of the prepared document stating: “This document was prepared with the assistance of [insert name of attorney], a licensed Arkansas lawyer, pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c).” The attorney need not sign that pleading, motion, or other paper.

(2) An attorney who provides drafting assistance to an otherwise self-represented person may rely on the self-represented person’s representation of facts, unless the attorney has reason to believe that such a representation is false or materially insufficient.

(d) Termination. The attorney’s role terminates without the necessity of leave of court upon the attorney’s filing a notice of completion of limited scope representation with a certification of service on the client.

(e) Service. Service on an attorney providing limited scope representation is required only for matters within the scope of the representation as set forth in the notice.

About the Author
Charlie Cunningham

Charlie C. Cunningham

Lawyer

Born, raised, and educated entirely in Arkansas, Charlie is passionate about helping Arkansas families through the court system. As a DHS attorney throughout the State, Charlie has helped hundreds of children, parents, and adults achieve positive outcomes through appropriate DHS agencies and services. Charlie understands the seriousness of any legal proceeding that involves someone’s child or loved one, and his…

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