What is limited scope representation?
Limited scope representation also called “unbundling” is a growing method of providing legal services where a litigant is not represented by an attorney for all parts of a case but instead hires an attorney for assistance with certain parts of the case. In other words, it is limited services or unbundling of the traditional full service package or bundle of services. A good analogy is ordering a la carte as opposed to ordering a full meal in a restaurant. Limited scope representation allows a client to select services off a “menu” of legal services so that the attorney is hired for just certain tasks. For instance, the attorney may be hired to draft documents or give legal advice about the client’s rights or run financial calculations or negotiate a settlement or even appear in court on behalf of the client in limited circumstances and these are just some of the many tasks that the attorney can be hired to perform.
Why choose limited scope representation?
Sometimes full service representation is not realistic due to financial reasons. The advantage of limited scope representation for a litigant who is not able to afford the full representation package is that there are no high retainers. Instead, the client makes a deposit toward the work that will be done based upon an estimate of time to complete the task or tasks chosen by the client. It is a pay-as-you-go process. Since the client selects the services, the client maintains more control over what the client spends on legal fees and in that way the client may choose to spend less. Therefore, when full service representation is beyond reach it makes sense to talk to an attorney about limited scope representation.
Sometimes, it’s not financial motivation behind the choice for limited scope representation. Rather, as we become more and more a “do-it-yourself” society there is somehow the expectation we should handle all life’s matters ourselves. That thought process combined with greater access to online legal forms may cause a self-represented litigant to be lulled into the misconception that they can easily handle their own legal matters without the assistance of an attorney. This often proves to be problematic since accessing forms is only part of the legal process. A self-represented litigant is not likely to know how to complete forms to protect their legal rights and reliance on form preparation by an online service provider who is not an attorney licensed in Kansas or, as often is the case, not an attorney at all, may put a self-represented litigant in a precarious position. Since the way forms and legal documents are worded may have lasting ramifications, legal assistance from an experienced family law attorney is vital to protect the interest of the self-represented litigant and their families.
Sometimes, a litigant simply wants to maintain as much control over their own case and work with an attorney more as a partner in the process instead of handing the reins over to an attorney completely. For a litigant interested in a process that provides a more hands on approach where the litigant is doing some of the foot work while accessing assistance from an experienced family law attorney as a coach and advisor, limited scope representation may be the best choice.
What if full service representation is desired later?
Sometimes a self-represented litigant determines that they need full service representation when circumstances occur that change the outlook of the case. For instance, perhaps the issue of child custody unexpectedly becomes contested and the litigant wants an attorney for full representation at trial. In that case, the self-represented litigant can consult with the attorney to discuss the possibility of hiring the attorney for full representation.
How does the client know what services to select?
The attorney will explain the legal process and recommend services based upon the anticipated stages in the particular case and the status of the case at the time the client is selecting the services. For instance, in a divorce, it may be that the attorney is hired to draft the settlement agreement. On the other hand, if the client was provided a settlement agreement by their spouse’s attorney, the attorney would likely be recommending that the task selected be a review of the proposed settlement agreement to be sure the client’s legal rights are protected.
Contact experienced family law attorney Mindy Reynolds
Navigating the legal and Court system can be confusing, time consuming, and scary. A self-represented litigant who may have had the confidence to begin the case on their own may feel lost and overwhelmed as the process unfolds and the deeper they get into it. If you are considering representing yourself or are already representing yourself but desire some assistance with the process to protect your legal rights, call the law office of Mindy Reynolds to discuss how limited scope representation may be right for you.