Attorneys often encounter situations where a potential client has a shoestring budget but needs legal assistance in a matter. The question then arises: Can my matter be handled with limited scope representation?
After learning about the situation and the client’s needs, the attorney must make the decision on a case-by-case basis if legal services can be unbundled for the client. The client must also be certain that legal guidance on a limited scope basis will meet his need and will not set him up for failure. The following factors may assist the client and attorney in determining whether a matter may be unbundled or if it requires full-service representation:
- Will the client understand the limitations of and consent to the limited representation? Is the client prepared to handle the case himself with some guidance or does he need more assistance?
- How complex is the matter? Will it involve court or administrative proceedings? Is it a clear-cut case?
- How urgent is the matter? Is the client contacting the lawyer in a last-minute emergency? Will the law firm be required to complete the work within a feasible time frame without the risk of providing services that are not competent?
- Will the client be able to handle the remainder of the case following the firm’s instructions and guidance? Does the client have the necessary level of education, experience, or sophistication? Is the client well-spoken and articulate? Can the client research and follow the necessary procedural rules related to the matter?
- Would it be in the client’s best interests in this particular circumstance if the representation were consistent from start to finish?
- Is the client going to be comfortable communicating with the firm using the methods that the firm has set up for limited-scope cases, such as a virtual law office or web conferencing, rather than in-person office visits?