Posted by Michael Franklin –
Limited Assistance Representation allows an attorney to assist a self-represented client with specific issues on a limited basis. This might include preparing or reviewing documents, appearing in court or giving legal advice, hence the term unbundled services. This type of limited representation, compensated or pro bono, permits the attorney to withdraw representation after completing agreed upon services.
Although the attorney does not fully participate, the attorney owes the client the same duties of loyalty, competence and confidentiality for the limited representation as he would under full service representation. The attorney also must review the limitations of the legal assistance with the client, for example in a written description.
Limited assistance representation is available in some of the Massachusetts courts including Probate and Family Court for the benefit of low and moderate-income clients who cannot afford the cost of full representation service. So litigants involved in cases of child support and custody, paternity, divorce and others can get partial representation by a qualified lawyer who has signed up with that court. Incorporation of LAR has provided legal assistance to a substantial population of pro se litigants appearing in Massachusetts state trial courts and should help speed up the legal process.
The LAR also benefits the client and attorney when they can control their involvement in a case. Rather than making a costly open-ended commitment where payment is questionable, attorneys have opportunity to represent previously unrepresented clients.
Limited Assistance Representation covers a defendant or plaintiff in a non-criminal action, pending or filed in any division of the District Court with each court department determining its own LAR protocols and procedures. For an attorney to quality to file a limited appearance, the attorney must compete a LAR information session approved by the Chief Justice.
In many cases of family, debt collection, housing and other civil matters, self-represented clients can effectively handle most areas with attorney input at a key point in the litigation. For example, in a divorce case the key point of involvement might be a pre-trial conference or at a debt collection hearing, it could be a motion to dismiss.
Call us if you would like to explore the possibility of Limited Assistance Representation in your Massachusetts legal matter.