When people think of hiring an attorney, they often think of a fierce advocate who handles each and every legal issue that arises throughout their case. This traditional style of representation is referred to as Full-Scope Representation. While you should always be reasonably informed of the status of your case, a full-scope attorney typically manages all communication with opposing counsel and the court on your behalf.
Most people do not realize that many family attorneys offer Limited-Scope Advisement as well. This is a great alternative for clients who feel comfortable doing some of the work themselves but also want to discuss their case with an attorney from time to time.
What Is Limited Scope Advisement in Family Law?
Limited-scope advisement means you have hired an attorney to coach you through the process of representing yourself. To the outside world, you are a self-represented party, but you can check in with your limited-scope attorney to get advice on how to proceed with your case. It is very helpful to have an attorney who is up to speed on all the issues in your case and ready to provide advice as soon as you need it.
What is included with limited scope?
Imagine you want to file a Petition to Modify a Parenting Plan. You search the court website and are overwhelmed by all the different forms listed online, and you do not know where to begin. You can hire a limited-scope attorney to draft all the necessary pleadings to start your modification action. You will then need to file the pleadings at the courthouse yourself. If you want to try drafting some or all the pleadings yourself but also want someone to double check them for accuracy before your file, you can hire a limited-scope attorney do to that too!
Basically, your limited-scope attorney can assist you as little or as much as you need. They can help you prepare for court appearances, organize exhibits, provide strategic coaching, and share their legal expertise to ensure you are complying with the court regulations. This can help you avoid common mistakes that may unnecessarily cost you time and money. It is more efficient than consulting with a brand-new attorney every time you have a question because your limited-scope attorney will already know the unique history of your case and can effectively guide you in the right direction.
What is not included with limited scope?
Your limited-scope attorney must stay behind the scenes, which means they will not file a Notice of Appearance in your case. You will be responsible for attending all court proceedings on your own, filing all documentation with the court, and handling all communications with the opposing party or counsel. You can consult with your limited-scope attorney every step along the way, but the assistance ends there. You cannot tell people, “Let me check with my attorney,” because you technically do not have an attorney. You have an attorney assisting you, not representing you. It is important to understand the difference between the two types of legal help so you are not surprised later down the road.
Can I Switch Between Limited and Full Scope in the Middle of My Case?
The short answer is yes; you can upgrade or downgrade between limited and full scope throughout your case. Just keep in mind that an attorney upgrading to full scope needs to file a Notice of Appearance, and an attorney downgrading to limited scope needs to file a Notice of Withdraw. It can be very confusing for the court to have an attorney who appears and withdraws multiple times throughout the case, so attorneys usually only want to upgrade or downgrade when it is necessary. Your attorney will likely need you to sign a new contract as well, so talk to them about your reasons for upgrading or downgrading to ensure it is the right strategy for you.
So How Does Limited Scope Save Me Money?
The legal service agreement will specify what tasks the attorney will handle, what tasks the client will handle, and how the attorney will be compensated. Typically, the client will pay the attorney for the specific tasks performed rather than for the entire case. This allows clients to control their legal expenses and avoid paying for legal services they do not need.
It is common practice for attorneys to charge the same hourly rate for limited scope as they do for full scope, so you are not necessarily paying less for the attorney’s time. The difference is that with limited-scope advisement, you are doing some of the work yourself, so the attorney is spending less time on your case. A limited-scope attorney does not need to review each and every document or communication if you feel confident taking a few steps on your own. You only need to check in when you need help. Your limited-scope attorney is a resource for you to use whenever you feel lost!
Is Limited Scope Right for You?
The most common reason to hire a limited-scope attorney instead of a full-scope attorney is the price. Limited scope is a cheaper option and is often used by people with lower incomes. However, if funds are not a concern, you might benefit from limited-scope advisement if you feel confident handling a few aspects of your case yourself. If you think you can file documents with the court, present an argument in court, or draft a well-written email to opposing counsel on your own, then limited-scope advisement might be right for you.
A limited-scope advisement can provide clients with greater control over their case. Clients who work with a limited-scope attorney can choose which parts of their case they want help with and which parts they want to handle on their own. This can be particularly empowering for those who want to take an active role in their legal matter and make their own decisions.
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The legal world can be scary to traverse alone. Navigate Law Group has many experienced attorneys who can represent you or help you represent yourself. Call our office and ask about our limited-scope services today!
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Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue, you should consult an attorney.