What Is Limited Scope Representation? 

Limited scope representation (sometimes called “unbundling”) is an affordable way that a family lawyer can assist clients who are self-representing with part of their divorce or separation. For example: 

  1. You can consult with a lawyer to prepare or review your paperwork, but attend the hearing yourself; 
  2. You can represent yourself through the whole case, and periodically consult with a lawyer who can coach you on the law, procedures and strategy; 
  3. You can do document preparation yourself and hire the lawyer as your agent, just to make the court appearance for you; 
  4. You may want to do your own investigation of the facts and ask the lawyer to assist you in putting the information in a format which is useful to the court; 
  5. You may ask the lawyer to be on “standby” while you attend the settlement conference yourself. 

Using a lawyer on a limited scope basis can reduce the fees associated with documentation and correspondence, and allow you to do much of the work of your matter on your own when you feel comfortable doing so. This particular service is best utilized by parties with an understanding of family law and the Family Law Rules, or willing to devote time to gaining such understanding.

The unbundled approach requires the client to do more work on their own behalf, and, as the client, you are ultimately responsible for your own matter. With limited scope assistance, you may be able to handle much of the case yourself, except for a few legal issues where the lawyer can help you. It really is between you and the lawyer how much of your case you hire them to do. 

Some areas of the law are extremely technical and it is rare for non-lawyers to effectively handle them. Among these are pension rights, stock options, and business interests. You will almost certainly need the assistance of a lawyer if your case involves any of these issues. 

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

The Client Retains Control and Responsibility 

Should you choose the unbundled option for your legal services, Rebecca Coyne/COYNE LAW cannot be your solicitor of record. Instead, we act as your agent. Agents can provide legal advice and representation; however, I they do not be in receive correspondence regarding your matter. Instead, court documents and correspondence from opposing counsel must be sent to you directly, as you maintain responsibility for your legal matter.

Why it is important to discuss your case thoroughly with your lawyer? 

It is important to thoroughly discuss all aspects of your case with your lawyer (even those which you think are simple) before deciding which parts you want to do yourself and with which the lawyer will assist you. It is equally important to realize that there may be important areas of legal risk presented by your case of which you are not even aware. 

The only way you know this is to talk it over with a qualified family lawyer. Sometimes new issues will arise after your case is started. If they do, it is important to advise your lawyer and discuss them, so that you understand any potential legal consequences. Your lawyer can only advise you on matters you tell him/her about, so it is essential that you provide complete information about your case. 

Remember, you and your lawyer are working as a team. That means good communication and a clear understanding of each person’s responsibilities under the limited scope retainer is essential. If you are interested in affordable family law help with your divorce or separation, reach out. We can help.

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