Limited Scope Representation allows a client to hire an attorney to do some, but not all work, in the case. This is a combination of attorney representation and self-representation.
This post focuses on litigated court cases.
Before deciding if Limited Scope Representation is the right choice for you, you need to gather information and consider whether you can successfully self-represent on certain tasks.
First, you need to understand what work needs to be done in the case. Talk with an attorney – to identify the various tasks, what each task involves, and resources to help with those tasks. Think about how well you understand the process and what will be required of you for any tasks on which you self-represent. The following resources can help you think about this:
- People’s Law Library
- People’s Law Library’s How Do I series for self-representation
- Tracking your case with Maryland’s Case Search
- Maryland Custody & Divorce Client Notebook
Second, think about how realistic it is to represent yourself in portions of the case. Are you organized? Are you a self-starter? Do you follow through? Are you good about meeting deadlines and planning ahead? The Maryland Custody & Divorce Client Notebook is an excellent tool for answering these questions.
Limited Scope Representation requires you to do certain tasks, some of which may be very important to your court case. You need to be ready, willing, and able to represent yourself. If not, consider instead full scope representation (so, hiring an attorney to do all the work) or pro bono/free or reduced fee representation, if you qualify.
Third, understand what resources – besides a Limited Scope attorney – are available to assist you on the self-represented tasks and whether it is realistic for you to take advantage of these resources. For example:
- Maryland’s online family law court forms
- Local Circuit Court Self-Help Center for help with court forms
- Telephone and Online Chat Self-Help Center for help with court forms
- Women’s Law Center Hotlines for Family Law and Legal Forms help
- Maryland Judiciary’s Self-Help Videos
Is it worth hiring an attorney to draft forms when online forms and free help is available to do so? Perhaps, if your situation requires a customized court document or you intend to hire the attorney for full scope representation, but just need time to gather the funds. Perhaps not, if you have limited funds and really need or want attorney representation at hearings or trials.
Fourth, confirm with your intended attorney if she/he is willing to represent you in the parts of the case for which you want attorney representation. Not all attorneys engage in Limited Scope Representation and some limit their Limited Scope services. Ideally, you should hire the same attorney for all parts of the Limited Scope Representation. This gives you the advantage of consistent representation and strategy among the selected Limited Scope services. For more discussion about selecting an attorney, please read Hiring an Attorney – What to Consider?
Finally, give careful thought to the cost and benefits of attorney involvement and limited scope representation. Throughout the case. At the start, get specific and detailed cost estimates for Limited Scope Services, to assess whether the services fall within your budget. For more information, about cost, please read What Will Litigation Cost? At each point in the case (deadlines, court appearances, court filings), evaluate the advantages, disadvantages, and cost of self-representation versus attorney representation. Be open to changing the scope of representation if self-representation is more work than you expected or not leading to your desired results. If you think change is needed, act early for a better chance at improving your results. Limited Scope Representation offers flexibility. Take advantage of this flexibility for cost-contained attorney representation.
Since 2002, Lindsay Parvis has represented clients in Maryland custody, divorce, and marital matters. She negotiates, litigates, and advocates for the best interests of her clients, whether in contested litigation, uncontested settlement, or premarital and other agreements. Her clients are not only spouses and parents, but also children whose interests she is appointed by the court to represent in contested custody litigation. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke and University of Baltimore School of Law. Lindsay strives to improve Maryland law in the General Assembly, volunteering her time to monitor, advocate, and educate about legislative developments in family law. You can follow her on Linked In, Facebook, LindsayParvis.com, and subscribe to her Newsletter for discussion, news, and developments in Maryland family law.