Ellis v. Maine, 448 F.2d 1325, 1328 (1st Cir. 1971)
Pro se petitioner who asserted complete ignorance of the law subsequently presented a brief that was manifestly written by a person with legal knowledge. Court held that a brief prepared in any substantial part by a member of the bar must be signed by that member.
Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) explicitly allows limited scope representation and allows a lawyer to file a limited appearance if the client consents in writing.
Maine Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 1.16(c) exempts an attorney from the standard withdrawal procedure and allows for automatic withdrawal of a lawyer upon completion of representation.
Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2(b) permits opposing counsel to communicate with assisted pro se client unless unbundling attorney notifies opposing attorney of representation.
Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Attachment A to Maine Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) includes a court-approved Limited Representation Agreement.
Maine Rules of Civil Procedure enabling unbundled legal services include:
- Rule 5(b) indicating that service upon the attorney is not required when an attorney files a limited appearance;
- Rule 11(b) explicitly permitting limited appearances and requiring an attorney signature on documents filed as part of a limited appearance; and
- Rule 89(a) exempting attorneys who have filed limited appearances from the standard withdrawal procedure.
Maine State Bar Ethics Opinion No. 89 (1988)
A lawyer is not required to sign a complaint or enter an appearance as counsel of record when representation is solely limited to preparation of the complaint.
HelpMeLaw.org provides extensive information, forms and contacts on matters of personal legal services.
The Maine Judicial Branch Representing Yourself website includes information and links to other resources.
Paula L. Hannaford-Agor, Helping the Pro Se Litigant: A Changing Landscape, Court Review, p. 8, (Winter 2003).
Michael Millemann, et al., Rethinking the Full-Service Representation Model: A Maryland Experiment, Clearinghouse Review (Mar./Apr. 1997).
Books and Reports
Clearing a Path to Justice: A Report of the Maryland Judiciary Work Group on Self-Representation in Maryland Courts (August 2007).
Evaluation of the Glen Burnie District Court Self-Help Center, Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts and the Institute for Government Service and Research (IGSR), University of Maryland (April 2012).
Interim Report and Recommendations, Maryland Access to Justice Commission (Fall 2009).
Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
The District Court of Maryland Self-Help Center offers limited legal assistance with landlord/tenant, small claims, debtor/creditor, replevin/detinue, and domestic violence/peace orders. Services are offered at a walk-in location or via live chat and phone service.
The Maryland Judiciary website offers forms for both the circuit and district courts.
Maryland's Peoples Law Library provides extensive information, including on-line diagnostic tools to determine if an individual is suitable for self-representation. Information is presented in six languages in addition to English.
Andrea R. Barter, Limited Assistance Representation Pilot Program Receives High Marks, Expands, Lawyers Journal (January 2008).
Edward M. Ginsburg, Commentary: Ways to Make Legal Fees More Affordable for the Public, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (March 9, 2009).
Christina P. O’Neill, Law a la Carte, Massachusetts Lawyers Journal, Vol. 17, No. 10 (July 2010).
Books and Reports
Addressing the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants in Our Courts: Final Report and Recommendations, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Self-Represented Litigants (November 21, 2008).
Appendix - Addressing the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants in Our Court: Final Report and Recommendations, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Self-Represented Litigants (November 21, 2008).
Pro Se Litigants: The Challenge of the Future, Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Department Pro Se Committee Report (Dec. 1999).
Report of the Boston Bar Association Task Force on Unrepresented Litigants (Aug. 1998).
Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Supreme Judicial Court Order In Re: Limited Assistance Representation permits limited appearances with a filed Notice of Appearance; allows an attorney to withdraw by filing a Notice of Withdrawal of Limited Appearance; requires service on both attorney and client for matters within the scope of the limited appearance; and allows an attorney to assist in preparing a pleading, motion or other document as long as the phrase “ Prepared with the Assistance of Counsel” is included on the document.
Massachusetts Bar Ass'n Committee on Professional Ethics, Op. 98-1 (1998)
An attorney may provide limited background advice and counseling to pro se litigants. However, providing more extensive services, such as drafting pleadings, i.e., ghostwriting, would usually be misleading to the court and other parties and therefore would be prohibited.
The Massachusetts Court System Self-Help Center provides information of use of the courts.
Massachusetts Legal Help provides legal information and links to resources. Information is available in four languages in addition to English.
Bradley A. Vauter, Unbundling: Filling the Gap, Michigan Bar Journal, Vol. 79, at 1688 (2000).
Charles R. Toy, Justice for Whom?, Michigan Bar Journal (May 2010).
Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct 6.6 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
State Bar of Michigan Op. RI-348 (2010)
After consultation with the client, a lawyer may ethically limit the scope of representation in the context of Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. The lawyer must provide competent representation to the client in light of the proposed limitations and the proposed limitations may not violate other law.
State Bar of Michigan Op. RI-347 (2010)
An attorney may assist a pro se litigant by giving advice or preparing documents as long as the attorney complies with the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct. An attorney who assists a pro se litigant is not required to appear in any proceeding and is not required to disclose the assistance to the court or opposing counsel.
State Bar of Michigan Op. RI-301 (1997)
When no confidential information has been divulged and the participant of a pro se self-help clinic has signed an agreement where the legal services agency disavows legal representation, no client-lawyer relationship is established. The legal services agency that provides the clinic is not disqualified from representing a party to litigation when the litigation has been filed by a participant in the clinic.
The Michigan Online Legal Help Center includes information and links to self help resources.
The Michigan Courts Self Help Center provides forms, instructions and information.
John Del Vecchio, Sharing the Experience, Bench & Bar of Minnesota (September 2010).
Michelle Lore, Unbundling Legal Services Assists Clients in a Tough Economy, Advise Minnesota Attorneys, Minnesota Lawyer (April 2010).
Andrea Nordick, Leveling the Playing Field for Pro Se Litigants, Hennepin Lawyer (December 2009).
Kevin Slator, A Look at Limited Scope Legal Assistance, Minnesota Lawyer (December 1, 2008).
Books and Reports
Minnesota Family Law Limited Scope Representation Risk Management Materials, Minnesota State Bar Pro Se Implementation Committee (Revised 2009).
Pro Se Implementation Committee Annual Report, Minnesota State Bar Association (2001-2002).
Report of the Minnesota Conference on Chief Justices Committee on the Treatment of Litigants and Pro Se Litigation (Apr. 1996).
Recommendations and Report, Minnesota State Bar Association Pro Se Implementation Committee, (Jan. 2002).
Report of the Statewide Law Library/Self-Help Center Advisory Workgroup, Minnesota State Court Administrator’s Office (January 17, 2007).
Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Minnesota General Rule of Practice for the District Courts 110 governs the operation of self-help programs.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch Self Help Center provides information, videos and tutorials. The site also includes forms that can be completed online and offers resources available in several languages including Spanish, Homng and Somali.
Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct governing limited scope representation include:
- Rule 1.2(c) expressly permitting limited scope representation.
- Comment to Rule 1.2(c) encouraging lawyers to offer limited scope representation; indicating that lawyers may provide counseling, advice, draft letters or pleadings, with or without appearing as counsel of record; and, in litigation, permitting lawyers to attend hearings on discrete matters or specific issues.
- Rule 6.5 governing the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Mississippi State Bar Op. 176 (1990)
An attorney may participate in a counseling service sponsored by a Chamber of Commerce in which business owners receive free legal counseling on a limited basis. However, the attorney should treat those he or she gives advice to through the service as clients and comply with all applicable rules of ethics.
Kathleen Bird, A Look at Unbundling of Legal Services, Journal of the Missouri Bar (January-February 2007).
Sara Rittman, Limited Scope Representation a/k/a Unbundled Legal Services, Missouri Supreme Court Legal Ethics Counsel (September 29, 2008).
Books and Reports
Analysis of Survey of Missouri Circuit Clerks Regarding Pro Se/Pro Bono Services, Missouri Supreme Court Committee on Access to Family Courts (September 30, 2008).
Missouri Supreme Court Joint Commission to Review Pro Se Litigation: Report to the Supreme Court of Missouri and the Missouri Bar (September 2003).
Pro Se Litigation Interim Feasibility Committee Report, Supreme Court of Missouri and Missouri Bar Association (September 2004).
Report on the Special Committee on Limited Scope Representation, Supreme Court of Missouri and Missouri Bar Association (July 20, 2007).
Missouri Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 expressly permits limited representation with written consent and governs communication between opposing counsel and limited representation client.
Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct 1.16 (c) requires a lawyer to file a notice of termination of limited appearance to withdraw from representation.
Missouri Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Missouri Rule of Civil Procedure 43.01(b) requires service on otherwise self-represented person and not on limited appearance attorney unless notified in writing to do otherwise.
Missouri Rule of Civil Procedure 55.03 governing unbundling includes:
- Rule 55.03(a) permitting a lawyer to draft pleadings or motions for self represented litigants without signing the documents;
- Rule 55.03(b) explicitly allowing limited appearances with a written entry of appearance and allowing an attorney to withdraw, when the matter is completed, by filing a “Termination of Limited Appearance;” and
- Rule 55.03(c) permitting a lawyer who assists with drafting to rely on the self-represented party’s representation of facts.
Missouri Rule of Civil Procedure 88.09 requires unrepresented parties to complete a litigant awareness program and to use court approved forms.
Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri Formal Op. 124 (2008)
It is ethically permissible for Missouri attorneys to engage in collaborative law practice. The attorney must inform the client how the process works and must obtain the client’s written consent.
Missouri Bar Ass'n Advisory Op. 940161
It is impermissible for a lawyer to draft responsive pleadings to an unrepresented opposing party in a divorce. However, a lawyer may draft an entry of appearance if the lawyer includes a letter indicated that he or she represents the opposing party and that the unrepresented party should obtain counsel.
Missouri Bar Ass'n Advisory Op. 940049
It is impermissible for a lawyer to prepare an answer to an unrepresented opposing party in a divorce or marital separation.
The Legal Services of Missouri Public Law Library offers information and links to resources.
The Representing Yourself in Missouri Courts website includes forms, information and links to resources on matters relating to family law.
Ostrovsky v. Monroe (In re Ellingson), 230 B.R. 426 (Bankr.D.Mont. 1999)
Paralegal who helped a business draft and file bankruptcy papers was found to be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Court notes that if an attorney acted in the same manner as paralegal, that person would be guilty of "ghost writing," which is described as the act of undisclosed attorney who assists a self-represented litigant by drafting his or her pleadings as part of "unbundled" or limited legal services. Court also notes that ghostwriting violates court rules, particularly Fed.R.Civ.P. 11, as well as ABA Standing Committee Opinion 1414 in Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
Montana Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) explicitly permits limited scope representation and outlines requirements for obtaining informed consent.
Montana Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2 establishes the presumption that a self-represented party is unrepresented unless notified to the contrary in writing.
Montana Rule of Professional Conduct 4.3 establishes the presumption that a self-represented party is unrepresented unless notified to the contrary in writing.
Montana Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Montana Rules of Civil Procedure enabling limited scope representation include:
- Rule 4.2(a) expressly permitting an attorney to provide limited scope representation to a person involved in a court proceeding;
- Rule 4.2(b) clarifying that providing limited scope representation does not constitute an entry of appearance and does not authorize or require service on the attorney;
- Rule 4.2(c) permitting limited appearances as long as a notice of limited appearance is filed and served prior to or simultaneous with the actual appearance and indicating that service on an attorney who has made a limited appearance shall be considered valid only when the service is in connection with the specific proceedings for which the attorney appeared;
- Rule 4.3(a) permitting limited appearances as long as a notice of limited appearance that specifically states the limitation is filed and served prior to or simultaneous with the actual appearance;
- Rule 4.3(b) allowing an attorney to withdraw, without leave of court, by filing a notice of completion of limited appearance; and
- Rule 11 permitting an attorney to draft a document without signing it and allowing the attorney who assists with drafting to rely on the self-represented party's representation of facts.
Montana State Bar Ass'n Advisory Op. 900409 (1990)
It is unethical for an attorney to sell "do-it-yourself" divorce kits. Kits lead clients to believe that they need no further consultation with a lawyer and present a very real possibility that client will suffer harm as a result of failure of the kit to meet particular needs.
The State Law Library of Montana offers forms, information and links to other resources.
Dennis Carlson, Amendments to Rules Facilitate Unbundling of Legal Services, The Nebraska Lawyer (November/December 2008).
Mary Kay Hansen & George D. Lyford, Limited Scope Representation, a Handy Tool for DIY Litigants, The Nebraska Lawyer (November/December 2010).
Books and Reports
Report of the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Pro Se Litigation (Nov. 22, 2002).
Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct enabling unbundled services, include:
- Rule 501.2, governing limited scope representation includes:
- 501.2(b) expressly permitting limited scope representation;
- 501.2(c) allowing an attorney to prepare court filings for pro se litigants so long as the filings include “Prepared By” with the name, business address and bar number of the attorney. It clarifies that such disclosure does not create an entry of appearance while also requiring the pro se litigant to sign the filing;
- 501.2(d) allowing an attorney to enter a limited appearance if the client consents in writing; and
- 501.2(e) establishing a procedure for withdrawal that requires the attorney to file a “Certificate of Completion of Limited Representation.”
- Rule 504.2 allowing opposing counsel to communicate with client on matters outside scope of limited representation; and
- Rule 506.5 governing the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Nebraska Court Rules of Pleading in Civil Cases governing limited appearance and withdrawal include:
- Rule 6-1109 (h) allowing lawyers to enter a "Limited Appearance" as long as the client consents in writing, the scope of the representation is clearly defined, and a copy is provided to the client and opposing counsel or opposing party;
- Rule 6-1109(i) permitting a lawyer to withraw upon completion of the limited representation as long as the attorney files a "Certificate of Completion of Limited Appearance" with the court and provides copies to the client and opposing counsel or opposing party. Court approval is not required and, once filed, the lawyer no longer has an obligation to represent the client; and
- Rule 6-1111(b) permitting attorneys who do not appear as attorney of record to prepare pleadings, briefs and other documents to be filed with the court as long as the filings include the "Prepared By" along with identifying information, and clarifying that doing so does not create an appearance by the lawyer.
Nebraska State Bar Ass'n Ethics Op. 94-2
Non-lawyers may not, through a 900 number telephone service, provide legal advice to the public. Attorneys encouraging such an enterprise would be in violation of the rule that prohibits a lawyer from aiding a non-lawyer in the practice of law.
The Nebraska Judicial Branch Self Help Center includes forms, instructions, information and links to resources.
Books and Reports
Simplifying the Maze: A Fresh Look at Nevada’s Court System, Nevada Supreme Court Judicial Assessment Commission (October 2000).
Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Rules of Practice of the Eighth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada governing unbundling include:
- Rule 5.28(a) requiring an attorney who offers limited scope representation to include that limitation on the first paragraph of the first paper or pleading filed on behalf of the client and to notify the court at the beginning of a hearing when a limited appearance is made; and
- Rule 5.28(b) permitting an attorney to withdraw from representation by filing a “Notice of Withdrawal of Attorney,” with a copy of the limited services retainer agreement between the attorney and client, and serving it on the client and all other parties or their attorneys.
State Bar of Nevada Formal Ethics Opinion No. 34 (2006, Revised 2009)
A lawyer who provides substantial assistance to a self-represented litigant must disclose such assistance to the court. The lawyer’s identity must be disclosed by signing all papers filed with the court for which the lawyer gave substantial assistance to the pro se litigant, by drafting or otherwise. In non-litigation settings, any attorney that provides substantial assistance to a pro se litigant must disclose such assistance, in writing, to the opposing party.
Clark County Family Law Self-Help Center provides instructions in English and Spanish, forms, and information about self-help classes.
The Nevada Judiciary Self Help/Pro Se website offers forms and external resource links.
Unbundled Services — Assisting the Pro Se Litigant, New Hampshire Bar Association Ethics Committee (May 12, 1999).
Books and Reports
Challenge to Justice: A Report on Self-Represented Litigants in the New Hampshire Courts, New Hampshire Supreme Court Task Force on Self-Representation (Jan. 2004).
Commission on the Status of the Legal Profession: Report and Recommendations to the New Hampshire Supreme Court (February 2007).
New Hampshire Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 governs limited representation and provides a sample consent form.
New Hampshire Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2 creates presumption that limited representation client is unrepresented for purposes of communication, unless notified otherwise in writing.
New Hampshire Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in one time consultations with clients through non-profit and court annexed legal programs.
New Hampshire Rules of Civil Procedure enabling unbundled services include:
- Rule 3 requiring that pleadings and communication be furnished to both client and limited representation attorney until withdrawal of limited appearance;
- Rule 17(c) explicitly permitting limited appearances in non-criminal cases so long as the precise scope of the limited representation is stated on a filed notice;
- Rule 17(f) allowing automatic termination of representation when an attorney files a “withdrawal of limited appearance” and gives notice of the completed representation to all parties; and
- Rule 17(g) permitting an attorney to prepare documents without signing them so long as the statement “This pleading was prepared with the assistance of a New Hampshire attorney” appears on the document.
The New Hampshire Judicial Branch Self Help Center provides forms, information, tips on court preparation and links to resources.
Lynne v. Laufer, No. A-2079-01T2, (N.J. Super. App. Div. Apr. 8, 2003)
Attorney, with matrimonial client's consent after consultation, limited the scope of his representation to a review of the terms of a mediated agreement without going outside its four corners. Court holds that it is not a breach of the standard of care for an attorney under a signed precisely drafted consent agreement to limit the scope of representation to not perform such services in the course of representing a matrimonial client that he or she might otherwise perform absent such a consent.
New Jersey Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 (c) governs limited scope of representation.
New Jersey Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
New Jersey Sup. Ct. Comm. On Attorney Advertising Op. 17 (1994)
Is it not unethical per se for a lawyer to operate a 900-number pay-per-call service giving legal advice. However, the lawyer must comply with the ethics rules and should proceed with great caution.
New Jersey Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics Op. 713 (2008)
Limited Representation is fully permissible as long it follows the requirements of RPC 1.2 ( c ). Disclosure of limited assistance is not required if part of a non-profit program designed to provide legal assistance to people of limited means, or if it represents an effort by a lawyer to aid someone who is otherwise unable to afford an attorney. Disclosure of limited assistance is required in other situations such as when a used as a tactic to gain advantage in litigation or when a lawyer effectively controls the final form and wording of pleadings and the conduct of litigation.
NewJerseyCourtsOnline.com provides a variety of packets with information and forms.
Books & Reports
Report of the Self Represented Working Group to the Supreme Court of New Mexico, New Mexico Commission on Access to Justice (May 2007).
New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct governing unbundling include:
- Rule 16-102(C) permitting limited representation with consent;
- Rule 16-303(E) requiring lawyer to disclose scope of representation to court; and
- Rule 16-605 governing the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
New Mexico Rules of Civil Procedure governing limited appearances include:
- Rule 1-089(A)(1) permitting limited appearances in district court as long as the attorney files a Limited Entry of Appearance that identifies the nature of the limitation;
- Rule 1-089(C) allowing an attorney who has completed the purpose of the representation to withdraw without court order by filing and serving a notice of withdrawal or substitution of counsel;
- Rule 2-107(C) permitting limited appearance in magistrate courts as long as the attorney files a limited entry of appearance that identifies the nature of the limitation and notes the limitation in the signature block of any paper filed with the court;
- Rule 2-108(A) allowing an attorney to withdraw without consent from magistrate courts, as long as the representation is completed;
- Rule 3-107(C) permitting limited appearances in metropolitan courts as long as the attorney files a limited entry of appearance that identifies the nature of the limitation and notes the limitation in the signature block of any paper filed with the court; and
- Rule 3-108(A) allowing an attorney to withdraw without consent from metropolitan courts, as long as the representation is completed.
New Mexico Supreme Court General Rule 23-113 governs communication between self-represented litigants and court staff, and grants immunity to court staff for any information provided to self-represented litigants.
New Mexico Advisory Op. 1987-6 (1987)
A lawyer may participate in a pro bono clinic that provides educational programs to individuals interested in pro se representation, provided the programs do not give specific legal advice to any individual.
New Mexico Ethics Advisory Op. 1987-12 (1987)
Where an opposing client is proceeding pro se but has given the attorney no indication that he is relying on the attorney to protect his rights, the attorney has no obligation to call to the court's attention a possible mistake that favors the attorney's client. The attorney is entitled to act as though the opposing client were represented by counsel and accordingly require the opposing client to protect his own rights.
New Mexico State Judiciary Self Representation Web Site includes family law forms and instruction in both English and Spanish.
The New Mexico Supreme Court website offers forms for the District, Magistrate, Metropolitan, Municipal and Probate Courts.
Fern Fisher-Brandveen and Rochelle Klempner,Unbundled Legal Services: Untying the Bundle in New York State, 29 Fordham Urban L J 1107 (Feb. 2002). (Abstract)
Richard S. Granat, eLawyering: Providing More Efficient Legal Services With Today’s Technology, New York State Bar Journal (September 2008).
Rochelle Klempner, Unbundled Legal Services in Litigated Matters in New York State: A Proposal to Test the Efficacy Through Law School Clinics, Working Paper, Partners in Justice Colloquium (May 2005).
Books and Reports
A Report on Programs and Services for Self-Represented Litigants in the New York State Courts, Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives (September 2001).
Best Practices for the Administration of Court-Sponsored Volunteer Lawyer For The Day Programs, New York State Courts Access to Justice Program (January 2010).
Best Practices for Court Help Centers and Programs to Assist Unrepresented Litigants, New York State Courts Access to Justice Program (December 2009).
Expanding Access to Justice in New York State, Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives (March 2009).
Facilitating Access Training Program Reference Manual: Volume 1, New York State Courts Access to Justice Program (January 2010).
Facilitating Access Training Program Reference Manual: Volume 2, New York State Courts Access to Justice Program (January 2010).
Report and Recommendations on "Unbundled" Legal Services, Commission on Providing Access to Legal Services for Middle Income Consumers, New York State Bar Association (Dec. 2002).
Self-Represented Litigants: Characteristics, Needs, Services, The Results of Two Surveys, Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives (December 2005).
Volunteer Lawyer for a Day Project Report: A Test of Unbundling in the New York City Housing Court, Joint Report by Office of the Administrative Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives and the NYC Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Services (February 2008).
In re Fengling Liu, 2nd U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 09-90006 (2011)
The Committee on Attorney Admission and Grievances recommended an attorney who provided undisclosed ghostwriting services for a pro se litigant receive a public reprimand. While the Court ultimately found the attorney had committed misconduct related to other issues, it found that the attorney’s ghostwriting did not constitute sanctionable misconduct. Since no rule or precedent governs attorney ghostwriting, the Court found that the attorney did not have an obligation to disclose participation.
New York Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Local Rules of the United States District Court for Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, Civil Rule 7.1(c), requires counsel to provide pro se litigants with printed copies of decisions cited when unreported or reported only on computerized databases.
Ass’n of the Bar of the City of New York Formal Op. 2009-2 (2009)
Ethics rules permit an attorney to make certain statements to a self-represented individual who is adverse to their own client. The attorney may identify general legal issues that a self-represented person should address and may also discuss undisputed statements or facts of law. In addition, an attorney may advise a self-represented individual to seek counsel and may also refer a self-represented litigant to seek assistance from a court-sponsored self-help program. The attorney may also clarify his or her role, and must volunteer such information if the self-represented person misunderstands the attorney’s role in the matter.
New York County Law Association Committee on Professional Ethics Op. 742 (2010)
It is ethically permissible for an attorney to prepare pleadings and other submissions for pro se litigants. Lawyers are not required to disclose such assistance, except in certain, limited situations.
New York State Bar Ass'n Op. 613 (1990)
A lawyer who does not appear as counsel of record for a pro se litigant may prepare responsive pleadings and demands for financial disclosure, provided the lawyer investigates the matter adequately.
New York Court Help includes forms, information and videos in both English and Spanish.
Camille Stell, CYA Corner: Unbundled Service Does Not Mean Unnecessary Risks, The Advocate (June 2011).
Books and Reports
Caught in the Middle: 2003 Report and Recommendations of the North Carolina Bar Association Pro Se Task Force (Dec. 2003).
Melvin Finance, Inc. v. Artis, 157 N.C. App. 716, 2003 WL 21153426 (N.C.App.)
Defendant retained an attorney on a limited basis, following an action filed by the plaintiff to recover costs on a defaulted loan. Limited representation attorney agreed to file responsive pleadings and negotiate a settlement agreement, and filed a notice of limited appearance. While the defendant received notice of a scheduled hearing and forwarded it to his limited representation attorney, neither defendant nor attorney appeared at the hearing and, consequently, an arbitration award was entered for the plaintiff. Defendant filed a motion to set aside judgment, which was denied. On appeal, the defendant claimed the limited representation attorney’s failure to appear at the hearing amounted to excusable neglect and that the judgment should be set aside. The court found that since the defendant received notice of the hearing and had retained the attorney on a limited basis, that the limited representation attorney’s conduct did not constitute excusable neglect. The lower court decision was affirmed.
Burgess v. Vitola, 2008 WL 821539 (N.C.Super.)
In a legal dispute surfaced over an alleged invasion of personal property, the plaintiff resided in North Carolina and the defendant resided in California. The defendant filed papers with the assistance of a California attorney but, on record, represented herself. The plaintiff sought recourse, arguing that assistance from counsel amounted to the unauthorized practice of law since the attorney was not licensed in North Carolina. As the Rules of Professional Conduct do not require an attorney who has provided drafting assistance to make an appearance as counsel of record, the court found that it had no authority to sanction the California attorney. It did, however, require that the defendant file an affidavit that she intended to proceed pro se and not seek legal assistance unless the attorney is licensed to practice in North Carolina.
North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
North Carolina General Statute 50B-2(d) requires the clerk of superior court in each county to provide pro se litigants with all necessary forms.
North Carolina State Bar Formal Op. 3 (2008)
A lawyer may assist a pro se litigant by drafting pleadings and giving advice without making an appearance in the proceeding and without disclosing or ensuring the disclosure of his assistance to the court unless required to do so by law or court order.
North Carolina State Bar RPC 114 (1991)
Legal services attorneys may provide legal advice and drafting assistance to pro se litigants without appearing as counsel of record. If court approved pleading forms exist, attorneys may make them available to individuals wishing to proceed pro se.
North Carolina State Bar Op. 6 (2002)
A lawyer may not represent one party in a divorce and prepare pleadings for the other (pro se) party to sign, regardless of the willingness of the parties.
North Carolina State Bar Formal Op.10 (2005)
Lawyers may provide services over the internet so long as: 1) the lawyer website includes a physical office address; 2) the lawyer provides competent representation, engaging in the same level of communication and taking precautions as does a lawyer in a law office; 3) the lawyer determines jurisdiction of client and runs comprehensive conflicts checks and; 4) the lawyer takes reasonable precautions to protect confidential information transmitted to and from the client. Lawyers providing services over the internet may offer unbundled client services if they obtain client consent, provide competent representation and follow RPC 1.2 (c).
26th Judicial District Self-Help Center Web Site provides forms, referrals and information about instructional clinics.
The North Carolina Court System website offers a comprehensive list of forms, most available for download.
North Dakota Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
North Dakota Rule of Court 11.2 governs attorney withdrawal when an attorney has filed a notice of limited representation.
North Dakota Rule of Civil Procedure 5(b) establishes the requirements for service on an attorney providing limited scope representation.
North Dakota Rule of Civil Procedure 11(e) requires an attorney who provides limited scope representation to file a notice that states precisely the scope of the representation and also requires an attorney to file a notice of termination upon completion.
The North Dakota Supreme Court website provides forms and instructions for self represented parties.
Kathleen M. Sampson, Meeting the Pro Se Challenge: An Update, American Judicature Society, Vol. 84, at 326 (May/Jun. 2001).
Books and Reports
Report and Recommendations of the Supreme Court Task Force on Pro Se & Indigent Litigants , Supreme Court of Ohio (April 2006)
Future Lawn, Inc v. Steinberg, 2008 Ohio 4127
Attorney was hired by appellant to handle a legal malpractice claim. The attorney was referred by appellant’s general counsel, to act in a in a matter concerning the handling of an environmental report in a real estate transaction several years prior. A settlement was reached in the matter and around the same time, general counsel was replaced. Following a dispute regarding unpaid legal fees, appellants were sued by former general counsel. Appellants responded with a separate suit, alleging counsel had committed malpractice. They implicated the limited representation attorney, suggesting the attorney had an obligation to advise them of issues surrounding claims of general counsel’s malpractice. The court found that representation by attorney was expressly limited to the original malpractice claim, and that no requirement existed for client consultation before limited the scope of representation. The attorney had no duty to investigate actions of general counsel.
Ostevoll v. Ostevoll, 2000 WL 1611123 (S.D. Ohio)
Respondent argues that the Petition should be stricken pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 because, although allegedly filed pro se, petitioner clearly received substantial assistance from counsel in the preparation and filing of the Petition. Court finds that if a pleading is prepared in any substantial part by a member of the bar, it must be signed by that attorney to avoid misrepresentation.
Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
The Ohio Legal Services website includes information, videos, links to court forms and other resources.
Judith Maute and Kade McClure, Making a Difference in Oklahoma, The Oklahoma Bar Journal, Vol. 80, No.1 at 64 (January 2009).
Oklahoma Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) governs limited scope representation.
Oklahoma Rule of Professional Conduct 6.5 governs the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
The Oklahoma State Courts Network website offers court forms.
Amber Hollister, Unbundling Legal Services: Limited the Scope of Representation, Oregon State Bar Bulletin July 2011).
Beverly Michaelis,Unbundling, Part II: How to Reduce Malpractice Exposure while Meeting Client Needs, Oregon State Bar Bulletin, Vol. 59, p. 35 (1999).
Books and Reports
Oregon Family Law Legal Services Commission Report to the Oregon Legislative Assembly (Jan. 1999).
Self-Representation in Oregon’s Family Law Cases: Next Steps, SFLAC’s Self-Represented Legal Services Subcommittee, Oregon Judicial Department (September 2007).
Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(b) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
Oregon Uniform Trial Court Rule 2.010(7) requires a pro se litigant to file a Certificate of Document Preparation, disclosing whether he or she had paid assistance from a lawyer in selecting or completing a pleading.
Form 2.010.7 Certificate of Document Preparation provides a court approved form that is required to accompany any document not bearing the name and bar number of an attorney.
Oregon State Bar Association Formal Opinion No. 2011-183
Limited scope representation is expressly allowed by Oregon RPC 1.2(b) and clarifies that an attorney may limit representation to certain actions or to certain issues. Communication is addressed and attorneys are encouraged to use written engagement letter to minimize risks associated with providing limited scope representation.
The Oregon Judicial Department Self-Help website includes information and forms.
The Oregon State Bar Do-It-Yourself Legal Topics website offers information on restraining order hearings, small claims court and summary dissolution.
Books & Reports
Recommendation of the Task Force on Meeting the Legal Needs of the Middle Income People, Pennsylvania Bar Association (June 2007).
Report and Recommendation of the Task Force on Self-Represented Litigation, Commission on Justice Initiatives in Pennsylvania (December 2006).
Jones v. Bresset, 2000 W: 3311607 (47 Pa. D. & C 4th 60)
Defendant was an attorney hired by plaintiff in the midst of plaintiff’s bankruptcy proceedings. The plaintiff had already obtained counsel of record, and hired defendant solely for the purpose of securing an accounting in the bankruptcy proceeding. The defendant alerted plaintiff of limited scope of his representation, advising plaintiff that problems may arise outside the scope of his representation. Plaintiff commenced a legal malpractice suit against his attorney of record stating negligence, and included the defendant in the claim. The court found that since the defendant distinctly limited the scope of his representation and urged the plaintiff to hire separate counsel for other matters, the defendant had no legal duty to investigate or advise plaintiff on existence of malpractice by attorney of record.
U.S. v. Eleven Vehicles, 966 F.Supp. 361 (E.D.Pa. 1997)
Court finds that ghostwriting by attorney for a pro se litigant implicates an attorney's duty of candor to the court, interferes with the court's ability to supervise the litigation, and misrepresents the litigant's right to more liberal construction as a pro se litigant.
Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
The Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Court Self Help Center offers forms and instructions.
The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania website offers civil complaint and landlord/tenant forms, as well as various forms for Orphans Court.
Rhode Island Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) and 6.5 govern limited scope representation and the responsibility to determine conflicts in non-profit and court-annexed limited service programs.
The Judiciary of Rhode Island website offers court forms.