Limited scope representation: an issue of access

Judge Anderson
Hon. John P. Anderson

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.”


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Judicare launches Northern Wisconsin Legal Advice Project

by Beth Richlen On July 1, 2013, Wisconsin Judicare and the Tenth Judicial District Pro Se Committee launched a new online legal advice website called Northern Wisconsin Legal Advice Project ( The website is intended to provide brief legal advice to low-income residents of the 10th Judicial District, which includes Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix and Washburn counties. The website is funded by a Pro Bono Initiative grant …

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Building a pro bono culture for law students

By Angela F. Schultz, Marquette University Law School & Ann Zimmerman, University of Wisconsin Law School

Both of Wisconsin’s law schools have created a Pro Bono Society to recognize the pro bono legal services provided their students. Each year, students qualifying for membership in these honorary societies are recognized for their achievement at a special event. In addition, Pro Bono Society members wear an honor cord at graduation and receive special acknowledgement at their law school graduation ceremony.

Marquette Pro Bono Society induction
Christian Bray receives her Pro Bono Society certificate from Dean Joseph D. Kearney

To qualify for membership in either school’s Pro Bono Society, law students must perform a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono legal services. At Marquette University Law School, special distinction is given to students who achieve 120 hours of pro bono work. The following guidelines are used to determine whether particular volunteer service hours will qualify toward the Pro Bono Society membership requirements:

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Updating the Judicial Code for the Age of Self-Represented Litigants

Margaret Vergeront
Commission member, Margaret Vergeront

A working group convened by the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission is examining possible changes to the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct that would provide additional guidance to judges to help address one of the challenges raised by the growth in self-represented litigants. The working group, led by retired Court of Appeals Judge Margaret Vergeront, has been preparing proposed changes as well as gathering suggestions from judges and practicing attorneys. The working group is still reviewing the comments that it received and expects to complete its work this summer.

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Milwaukee’s new lawyer for a day program

By Mike Gonring, Quarles & Brady For victims of domestic abuse, the justice gap is the Grand Canyon. With their lives in many cases literally on the line, the great majority of victims face a judge or court commissioner without the benefit of a lawyer, with little or no knowledge of the evidence needed to satisfy the burden of proof and confronted by an abuser who will say anything to avoid an injunction. This was …

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The return on investing in access to justice

This story in the National Law Journal is just the latest example of how legal services programs and even legal services funding organizations are emphasizing the social “return on investment” that is generated by the work that they do. From the article: Page 14 of Legal Services Corp.’s proposed 2014 budget request to Congress bears the face of a 7-month-old infant wearing a baby helmet to form his skull. He represents a boy (identified by …

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