In describing what the Justice Café offers, I frequently get asked, “what does limited scope representation mean?” Limited scope representation, also known as unbundled legal services, refers to an attorney taking responsibility for only a portion of a client’s case. Rather than handle an entire matter, an attorney only performs specific legal services as 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 are available a la carte.
As Mosten explains, limited scope representation is based on a sharing of responsibility between consumers and service providers similar to when one prepares their taxes with an online program and has an accountant give the papers a final look. 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. Under 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.”
Unbundling is a way for people to get legal services at affordable prices, while enabling lawyers to serve clients who are self-representing due to high lawyer fees. Unbundled services represents a win-win-win scenario:
Attorneys can expand their market share–usually only relatively wealthy or very poor clients receive legal services. By offering cheaper, 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 can 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 a reduced attorney fee of $75 an hour to have specific, agreed upon, legal tasks performed. Its street level, storefront locations in Atlanta, Marietta, and Savannah create an inviting, less formal environment for clients. 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.
by Luis Velez, Justice Café Executive Director