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Guideline A-3 on the Practitioner's Responsibilities in Limited Representation


A practitioner may limit the scope of representation provided to a client, consistent with organizational policy, if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client knowingly consents.


General Considerations

A significant amount of the representation offered to clients in legal aid practice is limited in scope, often in the form of legal advice, brief service, or assistance to pro se litigants. It is generally permissible under pertinent ethical rules to limit the scope of representation of a client, if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client provides informed consents. 

In practice, limited-scope representation is often offered through projects that are established by an organization, such as a hotline or an advice clinic, or under a case acceptance policy that identifies substantive issues for which only limited representation will be offered. Because in many circumstances, the decision to offer limited representation is made in the context of organization-adopted policies, it is the organization, not the individual practitioner, that determines that the limitation is reasonable in the circumstances for that type of assistance. These Standards, therefore, do not set out separate considerations for the practitioner in providing limited representation in such systems.

Practitioner Responsibilities for Limited Representation of Individual Clients 

With some clients, the practitioner will consider for that particular client whether full or limited-scope representation is appropriate. In such circumstances, the practitioner has the responsibility to determine if the limited-scope representation is reasonable under the circumstances including consistent with organizational policy. The practitioner should consider the complexity of the legal issues and the processes necessary to resolve or respond to the problem and the risk to the client if the matter is not resolved favorably. A number of factors will also influence the degree to which the client may be able to proceed successfully with only limited assistance from the practitioner. They include the client's language capability, level of education, and self-confidence.

A practitioner who offers only limited representation to a client should apprise the client of the limitations of the representation, including actions that the client needs to take and the practical risks for the client if the actions are not taken.