Limited Scope Representation

In addition to Full Scope Representation, I also offer Limited Scope Representation which is also known in various jurisdictions as Limited Assistance Representation, Unbundled Legal Services Representation, “A la Carte” Representation, Discrete Task Representation, or Disaggregated Legal Services.

Full Scope Representation, generally speaking, is where an attorney handles all matters in a given lawsuit in court on behalf of the client.  In comparison, this is typically a much more time-consuming and therefore expensive form of representation.  Full Scope Representation can certainly provide a client with the peace of mind of knowing that a professional attorney is handling all matters on his/ her behalf.

“I had a fantastic experience with Mr. Ebrahimzadeh. He went above and beyond what I had expected. I was faced with a very serious situation involving an unemployment overpayment and accusations of making false statements.  The Judge said the documents Mr. Ebrahimzadeh prepared for my case were so thorough that they made the case simple for him to decide, and he ruled in my favor. Mr. Ebrahimzadeh is a straight shooter and will not waste your time or jerk you around. He responds to calls and e-mails promptly.  I would recommend Mr. Ebrahimzadeh to all my friends and family, the services he offers are well worth the price.”

– Client Testimonial, August 16, 2010

Limited Scope Representation, on the other hand, is where an attorney and client agree that the attorney will handle only a portion of the client’s legal concerns and the client (or another attorney hired by the client) will handle all other portions of that same legal concern.  In Limited Scope Representation involving lawsuits in court, the client may remain in Pro Per, meaning that he/ she is representing him/herself in court, and the Limited Scope attorney may be performing certain portions of the work as well.  The separation of duties is clarified in the Attorney-Client Contract between the attorney and the client.   The main advantage of Limited Scope Representation is that it may be more financially affordable for a client to hire an attorney to perform only a given task in a lawsuit or legal matter for the client rather than 100% of such tasks.  The disadvantage is that there might be some troublesome overlap between the work performed by the client in the lawsuit versus the work performed by the Limited Scope Attorney.

For  example, think about building a house from scratch on an empty dirt lot.  A person may want to hire a professional to build an entire house for her, but she cannot afford the cost of so doing.  So she may decide to hire a professional to just put in the windows and doors since that is all she can afford, and the person herself will have to do everything else to build the house on her own.  For the professional to build the windows and doors, however, there has to be a foundation of concrete poured on the dirt and of course a floor, walls, and a roof built by the owner herself.  The professional cannot put in the windows and doors if there are no walls, right?  Similarly in a Limited Scope Representation arrangement between an attorney and a client, the client needs to be sure to perform in a timely manner all the work that has to be done by her in order for the attorney to perform the necessarily related Limited Scope of work that he has agreed to do.

In short, Limited Scope Representation is not the same as Full Scope Representation.  In a Limited Scope Representation Agreement, the attorney only performs one or more specifically agreed-upon discrete tasks rather than the full array of tasks associated with Full Scope Representation; and the client him/herself (or even another attorney hired by the client) would need to timely and properly perform all remaining tasks not performed by the Limited Scope attorney.  In Limited Scope Representation, the client remains representing him/herself in Court, e.g., in Pro Per or Pro Se, unless the client has hired an additional attorney (other than the Limited Scope attorney) to represent him/her as the Attorney of Record.

“My most sincere Thank You for all of the honorable work that you do. […] By assisting those who have been beyond failed by the system and cannot fight on their own, your honest work will illuminate the truth. Thus becoming the first bright light in one’s otherwise never-ending darkness.”

– Child Custody Testimonial, July 16, 2013

Here is some more information about Limited Scope Representation from various excellent resources:

1. California:  As defined by the 2014 California Rules of Court, Limited Scope Representation is “a relationship between an attorney and a person seeking legal services in which they have agreed that the scope of the legal services will be limited to specific tasks that the attorney will perform for the person.”  (2014 CA Rules of Court 5.425(a)).  Please read more about the relevant California Rules of Court on the California Courts website.  You can read more about Limited Scope Representation in California here.

2. Massachusetts:  “Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) is when an attorney represents or assists a litigant with part, but not all, of his or her legal matter. The attorney and litigant enter into a detailed agreement defining what tasks the attorney will be responsible for and what tasks the litigant will be responsible for.”  You can read more about LAR in Massachusetts here.

3. District of Columbia:  “The concept of limited scope representation is defined as “a relationship between a lawyer and a client in which they agree that the scope of the legal services will be limited to a specific duration, task(s), or subject matter.” For low- and moderate-income people, the hope is that they would be able to avail themselves of legal services, with the understanding that such service could be limited to a one-time consultation or to handling a discrete phase of a proceeding such as preparing a complaint, conducting discovery, or making an initial appearance in landlord–tenant or small claims court.”  (Tom Williamson, Washington Lawyer, June 2013, published here on www.dcbar.org.)

4.  New York:  “We believe that limited scope legal arrangements with pro se litigants provide substantial benefits to individual litigants.  Such arrangements can provide equal access to justice for pro se litigants who do not qualify for or who are without access to free legal services but who are nonetheless unable to afford prevailing legal fees. […] Unbundled legal services provide an opportunity to fill the gap between those who qualify for free legal services and those unable to afford counsel to appear on their behalf, thereby helping to level the playing field for clients of limited means facing a counseled adversary and an increasingly complex legal system.” (NYCLA Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 742, April 16, 2010, published here on www.nycla.org.)

5. American Bar Association:  “Unbundling is a method of legal service delivery in which the lawyer breaks down the tasks associated with a client’s legal matter and provides representation only pertaining to a clearly defined portion of the client’s legal needs. The client accepts responsibility for doing the footwork for the remainder of the legal matter until reaching the desired resolution. Unbundling is also referred to as limited-scope services, a la carte legal services, discrete task representation, or disaggregated legal services.” (Law a la Carte: The Case For Unbundling Legal Services, Vol 29, No. 5 of GP Solo, American Bar Association).

6. Family Law Quarterly of the American Bar Association:  “[L]awyers generally offer a full service package of discrete tasks that encompass traditional legal representation. More specifically, the lawyer implicitly or explicitly undertakes the following services on behalf of a client: (1) gathering facts, (2) advising the client, (3) discovering facts of the opposing party, (4) researching the law, (5) drafting correspondence and documents, (6) negotiating, and (7) representing the client in court. When a client hires a lawyer, generally both client and lawyer assume that the lawyer will perform these services in a full-service package. . . . Unbundling these various services means that the client can be in charge of selecting from lawyers’ services only a portion of the full package and contracting with the lawyer accordingly.” (Forrest S. Mosten, “Unbundling of Legal Services and the Family Lawyer,” 28 Fam. L. Q. 421 (1994)).

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