LACBA Lawyer Referral Service Expands Limited Scope Representation Services
In order to expand access to justice for those in our community who cannot afford to pay an attorney for full-scope representation, the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) has launched a limited scope representation initiative to connect interested panel members with clients of limited means who cannot afford full representation but who would benefit from legal counsel on specific aspects of their case.
Limited Scope Representation
Limited scope representation--sometimes referred to as “unbundling” or “discrete task representation”--means that an attorney is hired to provide legal services for only part of a case, as opposed to a more traditional representation where a lawyer is hired to provide legal services on all aspects of a case. When a litigant cannot afford to pay a lawyer to handle the entire case, limited scope representation provides an affordable alternative. This can take many forms depending on the client’s needs and what he or she can afford. Examples of limited scope arrangements include:
• General consultation for legal information and advice as needed, including coaching on how to prepare and be an effective self-represented litigant; the lawyer may be asked to be on “standby” for settlement conferences or hearings;
• Representation limited to certain specific issues in a case (such as child support or custody), or covering certain court hearings;
• Preparation or review of forms, pleadings or other court filings, and assistance putting information in a format useful to the court.
There is growing awareness and acceptance among the bar and the courts of the need for increased access to limited scope legal services. Limited scope representation is not the right choice in all cases, but there are many benefits to limited scope representation in appropriate circumstances, especially where full-scope representation is not a viable option.
Unbundling has the potential to benefit lawyers, their clients and the courts. Limited scope services lawyers can obtain clients who would otherwise represent themselves, reach an untapped market and generate additional income while providing a valuable service to limited-income clients in our community. Clients benefit from the experience of lawyers while paying only for the services they need. Courts benefit because litigants will be better prepared compared to self-represented litigants with no assistance from a lawyer.
If you are an attorney interested in limited scope referrals, please contact LACBA’s LRS at (213) 896-6571 or visit www.SmartLaw.org/membership.