What is Limited Scope Representation?
Limited-scope representation (sometimes called “unbundled services”) is an agreement between you and a lawyer, where the lawyer helps you with only part of your case while you do part of the case yourself.
This is different from more traditional arrangements between clients and lawyers, where the lawyer is hired to provide legal services on all aspects of a case from start to finish (full representation).
Courts approve of limited-scope representation because they want to encourage people to get as much legal assistance as possible to protect their rights. They know that you will do a better job of following proper court procedures and presenting important information to them if you have the help of a lawyer during the complex parts of a case.
Here are some examples of Limited Scope Representation:
- You can just consult a lawyer and get legal information and advice about your case when you need it;
- You can hire the lawyer to represent you on certain issues in your case (like child support or custody) while you do the rest yourself;
- You can hire the lawyer to prepare the forms and other court documents, but file them yourself and go to the hearing yourself;
- You can do all the preparation yourself and hire the lawyer just to make the court appearance for you;
- You can hire the lawyer to coach you on how to represent yourself at court hearings and help you prepare the evidence that you will present in court;
- You can hire the lawyer to help you with certain parts of your case, such as discovery and legal research, while you do the easier tasks yourself.
How can Limited Scope Representation help me?
You always have the right to represent yourself in court, but it may not be the best thing for you in your case. This is where limited-scope representation can help you. When you cannot afford to pay a lawyer to handle your entire case, limited-scope representation can be a great way for you to have some legal help with your case while keeping costs down.
How can I tell what parts I can do by myself and which parts need a lawyer?
You should decide this question with your lawyer. It is important to carefully discuss everything about your case with your lawyer. Only then can you and your lawyer make a good decision about what parts of the case the lawyer will handle for you and which parts you can do yourself. Here are some issues you might decide with your lawyer:
- Who will set the strategy?
- Who will find information or facts?
- Who will get information from the other side in your case?
- Who will draft documents or fill out forms for the court?
- Who will file the papers with the court?
- Who will appear at court and settlement conferences?
- Who will negotiate with the other side to try to settle out of court?
Keep in mind that the lawyer has much more experience in legal matters than you do. There may be legal issues in your case that you aren't even aware of, or that are more complicated than you think. If your lawyer feels strongly that the course you want to take isn’t in your best interests, you should listen carefully to the lawyer’s reasoning and recommendations. In fact, for very technical or complicated cases, you may still need a lawyer to handle the entire case (see below for more information). Limited scope representation is not a good fit for every case.
You are ultimately responsible for what happens with your case. This is why you must be sure to tell the lawyer all important information about your case, and think carefully about what you can do by yourself.
What types of cases might be good for Limited Scope Representation?
Limited representation works best if the case does not have a lot of technical or complex problems.
Here are some types of cases that are usually not very technical or complex:
- Divorce with few assets;
- Child support cases;
- Custody when the parents can agree;
- Small claims (money damages less than $6000).
What types of cases usually need full representation?
Some areas of the law are extremely technical and it is rare for people without legal training to handle them very well on their own. Some examples are:
- Divorce case where you need to divide pensions;
- Divorce case where you need to divide businesses or investments;
- Divorce case where you need to divide multiple real properties (such as houses or land);
- Custody cases when the parents cannot agree;
- Suing someone for money damages over $6000 (the maximum limit to file in small claims court);
- Any case where the parties cannot agree, are not truthful about facts, or where one party threatens or harms the other.
When does the Limited Scope Representation end?
IMPORTANT! The limited-scope representation ends when the lawyer has finished his or her part of the work.
If you decide you need more help, you can go back to a lawyer and make a new agreement. You might want to discuss this possibility with your lawyer when you are discussing the first agreement.
Be sure to ask your lawyer this question, so there is no misunderstanding about who does what parts of the case. The lawyer is not responsible for any part of your case that he or she did not agree to do.
How do I find a lawyer to do Limited Scope Representation?
Not all lawyers offer limited scope representation.
You can ask your District or Circuit Court Clerk’s office for a list of local participating attorneys. You can find the District and Circuit Court Directories here.
You may also contact the Wyoming State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at (307) 632-9061.