By Judge John P. Anderson, Bayfield County Circuit Court & Attorney Mary K. Wolverton, Chairpersons of Limited Scope Representation Subcommittee of PPAC
Courts and attorneys continue to search for tools and procedures that will address the challenges with an ever increasing self-represented population in the judicial system. Limited scope representation is one such tool that can improve access to justice for some Wisconsin residents who may not wish to retain counsel throughout an entire legal proceeding or who may not have the resources for full representation. The petition that is now before the Wisconsin Supreme Court would make it more likely that lawyers and clients could arrange a workable and affordable agreement for legal representation.
The current Wisconsin Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys have explicitly allowed limited scope representation since 2007. At least 42 states (chart), including Wisconsin have authorized limited scope representation through their attorney ethics rules by adopting the American Bar Association’s Model Rule 1.2(c) or a version substantially similar.Limited scope representation is a relationship between an attorney and a person seeking legal services in which it is agreed that the scope of the legal services will be limited to the defined tasks that the client asks the attorney to perform. In this arrangement, an attorney does not represent the client in a traditional sense or handle an entire matter. The attorney performs specific legal services. These services can take the form of making a single appearance at a hearing, preparing a legal brief, or negotiating a settlement. This form of representation is also called “unbundling” and “discrete task representation.”