An Analysis of Rules that Enable Lawyers to Serve Self-Represented Litigants

By: ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. Published by: the American Bar Association. Published on August 14, 2014

Link to PDF

This white paper provides policy-makers with information and analysis on the ways in which states formulate and amend rules of conduct, rules of procedure, and other rules and other laws that enable lawyers to provide a limited scope of representation to clients who would otherwise self-represent.

Highlights include:

  • “Yet lawyers who provide personal civil legal services frequently do not meet the needs of self-represented litigants. While they offer the full spectrum of legal services, lawyers are often unwilling to separate or unbundle their services and provide a limited scope of representation to litigants, although they typically do so when representing business interests and in transactional matters. Indeed the litigation system is not designed to accommodate this limited scope of representation model for the most part, although it does occur within some situations.” (p. 3)
  • “Until recently, neither the court system nor the legal profession had been fully prepared to embrace a model in which lawyers provide some, but not all, of the services of value to a litigant. Yet some courts and bar associations are moving forward, often collaboratively with other stakeholders such as legal aid providers, to facilitate limited scope representation, and to clearly define the circumstances under which these services are permissible.” (p. 3)
  • “As noted in the introduction, court administrators and non-lawyer legal service providers in the marketplace, such as document preparation services, provide general legal information that is not based on the specific individual facts, while only lawyers are capable of providing clients with legal advice about specific matters. This raises a question about whether a lawyer can provide a client with only legal information, such as that provided by a document preparation service, without further inquiry.” (p. 7)


Categories: Legal Aid Attorneys, Self-Help, Unbundling, Legal Aid Practitioners, Policymakers and Funders, National, Self-Represented Litigants

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