Category: Limited Scope Representation

in arkansas income prevents many from pursuing justice unbundled attorney can help

Unbundled Attorney – In Arkansas, income prevents many from pursuing justice. Situation similar to circumstances in Australia.

  • Australia facing means crunch for legal representation.
  • Limited-scope legal representations, or unbundled legal services, allow people with limited resources to seek redress.
  • Many Arkansans face similar difficulty paying for legal fees.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Make no mistake, availing yourself of top-notch legal representation is not inexpensive. Knowledge, experience, and familiarity of the judicial system — those things come with a price, and that price can be hefty, especially to Arkansans of limited means.

And it’s not only in Arkansas and the United States this is true.

A story from Queensland, Australia, published by the Sunshine Coast Daily, “Price of justice too high for our poor”, highlights that nation’s struggle to ensure access to its judicial system for all of its residents.

The story notes legal aid centers turn away 170,000 people each year and suggests that only about two out of every three people who need legal representation receive it. According to the story, Australia’s economics work out to where a single-income couple with two children earning $48,100 per year or a single parent with two children earning more than $37,960 per year would be ineligible for free legal aid.

Out of that need has arisen limited-scope legal representation, the unbundling of legal services, in which an attorney performs only some services in a given case, while the client himself/herself handles other aspects. These “alternative fee structures” lower the cost of legal representation and allow those who would have no other recourse to pursue their claim.

Attorney Lisa G. Douglas of North Little Rock said the United States is not alone in having a legal system that does not fully serve those of limited means.

“A working family in Arkansas might bring in $50,000 a year, but after paying for a place to live and clothes for the children and food for the family, there isn’t a lot left over if an unfortunate circumstance leads to a situation requiring the assistance of an attorney,” she contended. “In these cases, limited-scope representation can be the only way these families would be able to proceed with their action.”

If you or someone you know has a potential cause of action but is unsure of how to proceed, contact the Law Office of Lisa G. Douglas: 2300 Main Street, North Little Rock, AR 72114; (501) 798-0004, 24 hours a day; or online,www.lisagdouglas.com.

American Bar Association supports limited-scope legal representations

American Bar Association supports limited-scope legal representations. Florida considering changing rules to expand unbundled services

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas. — The American Bar Association has explained the need for limited-scope legal representations in a simple way.

A story, published by the legal news website Florida Record, “Individuals, attorneys benefit from a la carte legal services, one Florida attorney says” , quotes an ABA analysis of limited-scope legal representations: “Even though the courts and the marketplace are providing substantial assistance to self-represented litigants, the scope of this assistance is limited. Many, if not most, litigants need more than the procedural assistance offered by these resources. They need to know more than which forms to use, how to docket their cases and what time to appear in court. They need assistance with decision-making and judgment. They need to know their options, possible outcomes and the strategies to pursue their objectives. In some cases, self-represented litigants need advocates for some portion of their matter. These services can only come from lawyers.”

The analysis, compiled by the association’s legal services delivery committee, responded directly to the recent proliferation of online legal assistance websites. While the committee noted such information can help people navigate some parts of the judicial system, members also contended information online only goes so far.

However, in some states, court rules may hinder such “unbundled” legal services. The story notes Florida’s rules encourage attorney-client partnerships to achieve the best possible judicial outcome.

“If, for example, a client’s objective is limited to securing general information about the law the client needs in order to handle a common and typically uncomplicated legal problem, the lawyer and client may agree that the lawyer’s services will be limited to a brief consultation. Such a limitation, however, would not be reasonable if the time allotted was not sufficient to yield advice upon which the client could rely,” the story notes.

The state bar association in Florida is considering changes to its rules to allow further limited-scope representations, according to the story.

Attorney Lisa G. Douglas of North Little Rock said limited-scope legal representations are gaining popularity but will require state courts and bar associations to recognize the need.

“Arkansas is a state in which a number of potential litigants simply don’t have the resources to proceed. This type of a la carte service makes economic sense for them,” she contended.

If you or someone you know has a potential cause of action but is unsure of how to proceed, contact the Law Office of Lisa G. Douglas: 2300 Main Street, North Little Rock, AR 72114; (501) 798-0004, 24 hours a day; or online, www.lisagdouglas.com.

Illinois Supreme Court allows limited scope legal representations

Illinois high court endorses limited-scope legal representations

  • Illinois Supreme Court allows limited-scope legal representations.
  • Limited-scope legal representations, or unbundled legal services, allow people with limited resources to seek redress.
  • The concept is gaining widespread acceptance in the United States after becoming popular around the world.

A National Law Review story from 2013 explains how the Illinois courts have embraced limited-scope legal representation as a way to ensure clients from all socioeconomic strata have the ability to pursue claims.

The piece, Improving Access to Justice — “Unbundling” Legal Services in Illinois  — notes potential legal clients who earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty line can qualify for legal aid in some cases. Those for whom fiscal issues are of no concern can hire the best legal representation possible. Those who fall in the middle, though, may find themselves without the resources to hire adequate legal representation even though they have a legitimate claim.

In 2013, recognizing this fact, the Illinois Supreme Court changed its rules, allowing attorneys in the state to offer “unbundled” services. These “limited-scope” representations allow attorneys to perform some services in a given case while the client handles other parts of the case himself/herself.

Announcing the changes, Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride said, “These rules will improve access to Illinois courts for people with limited means. … The Rules enable an attorney to represent a client on a limited part of a lawsuit and then withdraw from the case.  The nature of some cases requires full legal representation, but many do not. This will allow lawyers to offer their pro bono services more efficiently, and provide a person with the possibility of hiring a lawyer to protect their interests without the burden of paying for complete representation.”

The high court’s actions involved two rules, Rule 13 and Rule 11.

Rule 13 changed to allow a limited-scope representation when the attorney and client enter into a written agreement stipulating what services the attorney will provide.

Rule 11 changed to require notice to both the client and the attorney, even in limited-scope cases.

The court also clarified another rule to allow attorneys to assist someone in drafting pleadings, motions or other statements to the court.

The Law Review article notes the changes “were meant to encourage attorneys to provide representation to people who could not otherwise afford representation.”

Attorney Lisa G. Douglas of North Little Rock said limited-scope legal representations enable anyone to pursue justice.

“This type of arrangement allows someone with limited means to seek justice, to right a wrong. It is not a second tier of service; it is a partnership between attorney and client,” she explained

If you or someone you know has a potential cause of action but is unsure of how to proceed, contact the Law Office of Lisa G. Douglas: 2300 Main Street, North Little Rock, AR 72114; (501) 798-0004, 24 hours a day; or online,www.lisagdouglas.com. -Rick Fahr