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Is Limited-Scope Representation right for my divorce?

| May 18, 2021 | Divorce |

Beyond the emotional upheaval that comes with divorce, there are financial costs, both during the proceeding and with projected lifestyle changes post-divorce. Whether it is uncontested or ends up in court, legal services can be expensive. The average cost of a divorce in 2020 hovered at $12,900, with the median cost of $7,000 per spouse when full-scope attorneys were retained.

Truthfully, the concept of offering limited attorney services for clients who do not want to be entirely self-representing (pro se), but who wish to have attorney assistance in some aspects of the proceeding, is not new.

What are unbundled legal services?

In 2003, the American Bar Association (ABA), in recognizing that a majority of Americans could not afford full legal representation at that time, published a handbook that proposed limited scope legal assistance as an affordable alternative. Also called unbundled legal services, a client receiving limited-scope representation (LSR) could choose certain services or advice from an attorney rather than full-scope representation.

The advantages to this à la carte legal service approach would be:

  • The clients received the most essential services they needed at an affordable price
  • Attorneys could expand their client base for those who could only afford partial representation
  • Greater efficiency for the courts, as pro se litigants could better represent themselves with legal assistance

Do I get the same quality of services with LSR?

Under the Rule 1.2(c) of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, LSR is authorized if the client gives informed consent. Many states, including Michigan, have adopted similar Rules of Professional Conduct to the ABA’s that require an attorney offering LSR to provide the same level of competent representation for unbundled legal services that they would for a client with full representation.

Individual services that LSR can provide can include legal research and informed advice, the filing of motions, depositions and discovery, as well as document review and drafting of final orders. Finding a skilled divorce attorney offering LSR in Bloomfield Hills and throughout Oakland County can be a plus for informed clients who may only need assistance with some of the more complex parts of their legal matter.