The recent changes in the Illinois Supreme Court’s rules formally enable lawyers to represent litigation clients on a limited scope basis. Limited scope representation allows pro se clients to save money by providing flexibility to the clients to structure their representation for the most effective use of the attorneys’ expertise. For example, if a client will be waiting for hours at the courthouse for a routing status hearing, it may not be the best use of the attorney’s time to wait with the client. Instead, the attorney’s time may be better spent on coaching the client on how to represent himself before the court, allowing the client to appear during the routing court’s hearings without an attorney. This approach saves the client money by not incurring legal fees while waiting for the case to be called. Similarly, in the cases that have only a few issues, or that have technical issues that can be divided, an attorney may be engaged to handle a more complicated issue while the client continues to handle simpler issues. The clients may also be able to gather and summarize much of the information sought to be produced in the case, while the attorney can utilize that information and organize it in a form which is useful to the court. Thus, the client makes the most efficient use of the attorney’s time by directing the attorney’s efforts on the matters that the client can’t do effectively himself.
Limited scope representation allows the clients not only to save money on their legal costs, but also to retain greater control over their cases. Clients must know, however, that if they wish to retain control over their cases, they will be responsible for the outcome of the cases, even if they hire attorneys to coach them. There may be hidden complications or procedural requirements in the case about which the clients are not aware of. Therefore, the clients must discuss their legal matters thoroughly with their attorneys to become aware of the procedural requirements and are comfortable handling the parts of the case that they decide to undertake. It’s important that the clients are not taking on too many responsibilities or areas that may be too technical or detrimental to the outcome of the case.
The limited scope representation gives litigants access to legal services that they didn’t have before. The new rules provide for and automatic termination of attorneys’ representation upon completion of the agreed-upon procedures. Knowing that their representation automatically terminates upon completion of the agreed-upon procedures, attorneys should be more willing to represent the clients in challenging and low-value cases. Therefore, the limited scope representation arrangements benefit the courts, attorneys, and, more importantly, the pro se clients that otherwise may not have access to the qualified legal help.
Should you have any questions regarding the above-mentioned issues or other employment or business matters, please contact Oleg N. Feldman, Esq.