Limited Scope Representation (LSR)
Limited scope representation (LSR) also known as "unbundled representation" and "limited scope assistance" is when the client and attorney select specific services to be provided rather than the "full package" of services that are traditionally offered by law firms. It's kind of like dining a la carte.
Examples of services performed by an attorney in limited scope representation in a divorce case include:
- Prepare the initial petition of divorce. While the attorney prepares the document you are the one that appears in court. You are considered pro-se litigant
- Coach the client on what needs to be done and when it needs to be done
- Prepare you for the discovery process. The attorney will work behind the scenes coaching you on such things as how to prepare a divorce inventory, how to hire experts if needed and advise you on what documents you need to prepare
- Review documents. The limited scope divorce attorney can review correspondence you are sending or have received from the opposing side as well as motions and pleadings you write or receive
- Review the settlement agreement. If you can only afford to have an attorney do one thing this should be it. Once the settlement agreement is signed and entered into the record it is hard to change. A limited scope representation attorney will review the settlement agreement to insure that it is legal, fair and includes everything necessary
What the lawyer does not do is enter an appearance with the court or communicate with opposing counsel or the opposing party. You are completely responsible for the management of your case. You must abide by all court deadlines, file all the necessary pleadings, fully comply with all discovery requests, and communicate with the court and with opposing counsel
When NOT to use limited scope representation for your divorce:
- You believe your spouse to be dishonest
- You feel bullied by your spouse
- You are unaware of the finances of the marriage
- You are unable to deal with confrontation
- The marital assets are complicated, for example if there is a business to be valued for equitable distribution
If you are considering using limited scope representation or unbundled representation a good question to ask is if the court or judges in your jurisdiction are biased against pro se litigants. Even though it is your legal right to represent yourself you may run across judges who lose their patience with you or hold it against you that you are representing yourself.
That being said, if you decide to go the limited scope representation route you will probably have to enter into an unbundled fee agreement with the attorney. The agreement should state the following:
- The attorney will not appear in court
- The attorney will not speak with the opposing party, or opposing counsel
- The exact extent that the attorney will be involved
- The amount and terms of the fee to be paid by you
Hiring a Limited Scope Representation Attorney
More and more attorneys are now offering unbundled representation. Be sure that the attorney you hire is experienced in divorce and family law.
If you are just starting the divorce process and haven't had legal input, your initial session with the limited scope representation attorney can be of great help. Be sure have a checklist of any issues you'd like to cover so that you don't overlook anything.
When looking for Limited Scope Representation or unbundled services beware of the store front "firm" that offers el cheapo divorce. These are often paralegal services that will simply fill out forms and file the appropriate court documents. They cannot give legal advice.
With the average cost of a divorce being estimated at somewhere between $10,000 to 20,000 you can see the need and benefit of a service such as limited scope representation.
The following attorneys handle limited scope representation cases.
Please mention DivorceHQ.com when contacting them.