Tonight’s post on the Justice Cafe’ was written by its Executive Director, Luis Velez.
In describing what the Justice Cafe’ offers, I am frequently asked, “what does limited scope representation mean?” Limited scope representation, also known as unbundled legal services, refers to an attorney accepting responsibility for only a portion of a client’s case, rather than handle an entire matter. The attorney only performs the specific legal services requested by the client.
Forrest S. Mosten, Esq., a family law practitioner who teaches at UCLA School of Law and formerly taught at Mercer Law, is known as the “Father of Unbundling.” He wrote the seminal book, Unbundling Legal Services, in 2000. In his book, Mosten explains the concept of unbundled legal services with an analogy to a menu where services, like menu items, are available a la carte.
The Georgia Bar approved attorneys working in this unbundled manner when it enacted Rule 1.2 of Georgia’s Rules of Professional Conduct: “A lawyer may limit the scope and objectives of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.”
As Professor Mosten explains, limited scope representation is based on a sharing of responsibility between consumers and attorneys similar to an accountant reviewing a tax return prepared by the client. In unbundling legal services, the lawyer and the client agree that the lawyer will perform some of the work involved in the client’s case and the client will be responsible for the remaining work. Unbundling is a way for people to obtain legal services at affordable prices, while enabling lawyers to serve clients who are unrepresented because of high lawyer fees. Unbundled services represents a win-win-win scenario:
· Attorneys can expand their market –usually only relatively wealthy or very poor clients receive legal services. By offering less expensive, a la carte legal services, an attorney can offer affordable legal services to more clients.
· Clients can reduce their legal services costs and only have to buy services they need.
· Courts benefit from an improvement in the administration of justice through a reduction in the number of uninformed self-represented litigants.
Limited scope representation falls into three general categories:
· Consultation, such as giving advice and direction;
· Document preparation; and
· Limited representation in court.
The Justice Café offers unbundled services in which the client pays an attorney fee of $75 an hour to have specific, agreed upon, legal tasks performed. The offices in Atlanta, Marietta, and Savannah create an inviting, less formal environment for clients.
Our Justice Café now offers limited scope representation in family law, such as divorce, juvenile law and criminal law.
We welcome you to visit any of our locations, call us at (678) 791-0734, or write to us via the “Contact Us” page of our web site at www.justicecafe.com if you have any questions or need our assistance.