Unbundled services

Attorney and Client, Fortitude and Impatience (Image is in public domain)

Attorney and Client, Fortitude and Impatience (public domain)

The Illinois Supreme Court recently made some changes that allow lawyers to offer an a-la-carte menu of legal services, otherwise known as “limited representation” or “unbundled services.”

Traditionally, a lawyer would be hired on by a client paying a periodic fee, and if a matter arose, the attorney handled the case from beginning to end, ringing up a large bill. Lawyers would often turn lower-income clients away in the beginning to avoid appearing in the case for free later on. No money often meant no justice.

With a new Illinois ethics rule in 2010, limited representation could be agreed upon between a client and attorney if the limits were “reasonable under the circumstances,” and after discussing the risks involved. Ill. RPC 1.2(c). Unfortunately, this rule alone was not very effective in practice.

But as of July 2013, Ill. Sup. Ct. Rule 13(c) allows a lawyer to file “a limited scope appearance” in a civil hearing/trial, and to withdraw afterward. Furthermore, Ill. Sup. Ct. Rule 137(e) allows a lawyer to assist in drafting/editing “a pleading, motion, or other paper” without appearing in court.

What does this mean for clients? It means a greater access to justice, and a lower cost. A client can represent himself or herself and still have an attorney assist with advice, drafting, or court appearances.

Of course, it is always a good idea to talk to an attorney before filing pro se, as some cases simply should not proceed without an attorney. However, limited representation allows lower-income clients to take some matters to court and win on their own terms with affordable representation available.

If I can be of assistance in providing limited scope services, feel free to contact my office to set up a free initial consultation.

DISCLAIMER: Please do not prepare your own documents / filings after reading this blog, without consulting an attorney first about your specific situation. I make no representations or guarantees here as to the applicability of any claim in your specific situation. This blog is ADVERTISING MATERIAL only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice, especially if you are not an Illinois resident. Please contact me if you have a legal question or concern, as no attorney-client agreement will exist between myself and any readers of this blog unless it is signed in writing.

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