What is Limited Scope Representation?
October 15th, 2018
By Lori Lindsey
Limited Scope Representation has been happening in Oklahoma for a long time. In 2008, it was authorized through Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c), which states that “a lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.” However, it is now formally recognized by the Oklahoma Bar Association. This occurred with the adoption of District Court Rule 33, which states that “a lawyer providing limited scope representation under Rule 1.2(c) of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct may draft pleadings or other documents for a pro se litigant to file with or present to a district court without the lawyer entering an appearance in the matter.”
In plain English? This means that clients can pay lawyers to prepare documents for the client to take to court and file themselves. The client does not have to pay the attorney for the time the attorney would spend at court filing the documents, waiting, and/or speaking in front of the judge.
This is a fantastic development for clients because they’re no longer paying for services that they can competently perform themselves. Further, Limited Scope Representation is typically done on a flat fee basis, so the client knows at the outset what the matter will cost. Limited Scope Representation makes the client experience a lot more convenient because much can be done through a client portal, as opposed to needing to meet face-to-face with an attorney during business hours. With a client portal, clients no longer have to take off work to attend a meeting. If they only have time to fill out the necessary paperwork at 10:00 at night, they can upload the completed paperwork into the client portal at their convenience, and the attorney can review it when they are next in the office.
However, not every type of matter is appropriate for Limited Scope Representation and not every client is a good fit for it either. For instance, criminal defense is not a good fit for Limited Scope Representation because of the complex nature of criminal proceedings. Similarly, a client who is unable or unwilling to follow directions for where, when, and how to file a divorce petition is not a good fit for Limited Scope Representation.
Here are some ways that Limited Scope Representation can occur:
- The attorney prepares or reviews paperwork, but the client attends the hearing him/herself. (An example of this would be a divorce petition or adoption petition)
- The attorney can coach the client on the law, procedures, and strategy, and the client represents him/herself throughout the whole case. (An example of this would be advising a client on how to proceed in a divorce case)
- The attorney prepares documents for the client, and the client gets the document notarized and/or mailed him/herself. (An example of this would be a will, business filings, or basic demand letters)
Attorneys should give the client as much information as possible about what to do with the completed paperwork and what to expect next. That way the client isn’t left with a completed divorce petition, but no idea where to take it.
If cases become too complicated for a client to continue on a Limited Scope basis, a client is allowed to retain an attorney for full-scale representation.