Limited representation does not mean limited
It's the lawyer's responsibility to make sure the client
understands all of the potential of the client's actions. Only when
the client knows the likely benefits and risks of any action can he
or she make a decision in his/her best interest. A lawyer must
advise of possible consequences even if the client does not
ask. A client who is resistant to discussions of
particular topics - such as money - is not likely a good candidate
You must have a realistic picture of the client's
ability to self-represent.
Clients who do not understand and who may be unable to give
informed consent to the limitation on scope, are probably not good
candidates for LAR. Clients need sufficient proficiency in English,
and the sophistication and skill to handle complex issues. It's up
to you, as the professional, to determine whether or not a client
is up to the task.
LAR is not meant for test-drivers.
What is your legal expertise? Don't be tempted to use LAR as a
learning experience in matters of law outside your expertise, in
which you may be unable to advise the client on possible outcomes.
See first item above.
Limited scope must be fully
The most critical part of an LAR agreement is delineating when
and how the engagement ends. Attorneys with clients who seek
additional (usually, emergency) services above and beyond the LAR
engagement, and who go on to perform those services without an
updated agreement, risk trouble for themselves and their clients.
The working relationship with the client must be such that the
client respects the "limited" in LAR. Files must also demonstrate
the discussion over any changes in scope.
LAR cannot predict every outcome.
If a case goes to trial, it is incumbent upon the LAR attorney
to explain to the client that it's not possible to accurately
predict how a judge may rule in a particular case. Additionally,
the LAR attorney must take into account clients' expectations of
what occurs in court, which may be shaped by court dramas on TV and
Checklists and flow charts - love them or hate
To function properly, the LAR process benefits greatly from
checklists delineating the attorney's and client's duties, as well
as flow charts to document progress. Checklists and flow charts
should be tailored to your specific needs.
How do you feel about taking credit
General-representation attorneys are wary of this when used for
up-front retainers because it may signal that the client has
limited funds on hand. However, payments for LAR services are
generally smaller per increment, and thus easier to control.
Task-based or hourly? And then
You can charge an hourly rate or a task-based flat fee, but if
you choose an hourly rate, you should take into account that your
responsibilities for LAR work are the same as your responsibilities
for full-service work. If you do draft or research work outside the
client's presence, have a minimum number of hours in trust that can