Limited Scope Representation

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is Limited Scope Representation?
  2. What is an example of Limited Scope Representation?
  3. Do the Connecticut Rules of Practice currently allow attorneys to limit the scope of their services?
  4. Who can provide Limited Scope Representation?
  5. What criteria should an attorney use to determine whether Limited Scope Representation might be appropriate?
  6. How does a lawyer file a Limited Appearance?
  7. What happens after the attorney completes his or her limited representation?
  8. What impact might filing a limited appearance have on opposing counsel’s scope of communication with the client and attorney?
  9. Can the attorney and client agree that the attorney will extend representation beyond the scope of the limited appearance?
  10. Who gets served notice of any pleadings once a Limited Appearance has been filed?
  11. What duties does the attorney owe the client when providing limited scope representation?

 

1. What is Limited Scope Representation?
Limited Scope Representation is when an attorney represents or assists a party with part, but not all, of his or her legal matter. The attorney and party enter into a detailed written agreement defining the scope of the legal assistance including which tasks the attorney will be responsible for and which tasks the party will be responsible for. Not every type of practice is conducive to limited scope representation. It is wise to avoid Limited Scope Representation in very sophisticated and/or complicated litigation.

2. What is an example of Limited Scope Representation?
There are many different types of Limited Scope Representation. One example would be providing legal advice to an individual about a case or a legal problem he or she is involved in. Another example would be drafting documents or pleadings for the individual. This is commonly referred to as “ghost-writing.” In this instance, the attorney is required to disclose on the pleading or document that it was “prepared with assistance of counsel,” but the attorney is not required to disclose his or her name or juris number. A third example would be legal coaching. That is, for example, providing legal guidance about the legal or court process such as how to introduce evidence, how to cross examine a witness, general courtroom decorum and procedure. A final example would be filing a limited appearance where the attorney represents the party in court for a part of his or her case. The Limited Appearance form, JD-CL-121, would be filed by the attorney and specify the event or proceeding for which the attorney is providing representation.

The retainer letter and fee agreement between the attorney and the client must explicitly articulate and itemize the scope of the legal assistance, and the Limited Appearance form, JD-CL-121, specifically defines the event or proceeding covered by the limited appearance.


3. Do the Connecticut Rules of Practice currently allow attorneys to limit the scope of their services?
Yes. Under Connecticut’s rules of practice and rules of professional conduct, an attorney may limit the scope of their representation if the representation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent. Originally, the pilot program established by the Chief Court Administrator permitted the filing of limited appearances only in family or family support magistrate matters.  As of January 1, 2016, however, an attorney may file a limited appearance in any civil, housing, small claims, family or family support magistrate matter in any judicial district pursuant to Practice Book § 3-8 (b). 4. Who can provide Limited Scope Representation?
Any Connecticut attorney may choose to provide limited scope representation services. The decision regarding whether to limit the scope of legal services and when is entirely between the attorney and the client. However, not all cases and clients lend themselves to limited scope representation. Rather, significant numbers of legal matters are better served if the lawyer represents the client throughout the entire process, and some clients with limited capacity may not be good candidates for Limited Scope Representation. If, however, a party to a case wishes to consult with and hire an attorney for Limited Scope Representation, the attorney will decide if the case is appropriate for limited representation and the attorney and the client will decide what type of Limited Scope Representation works best for the situation.

5. What criteria should an attorney use to determine whether Limited Scope Representation might be appropriate?
There are many factors that should be considered when deciding whether to provide limited scope representation. The ultimate decision about whether and how to provide limited legal services depends upon the capabilities of the party, the nature and importance of the legal problem and the availability (or not) to the party of other self-help resources. These are individualized decisions that lawyers and parties make jointly. As stated in Section 1.2 (c) of Connecticut’s Rules of Professional Conduct, "a lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent."

6. How does a lawyer file a Limited Appearance?
A Limited Appearance, form JD-CL-121, is available in all Clerk’s Office, Court Service Center and Law Library locations and on the Judicial Branch website. A Limited Appearance may only be filed in connection with a court event or proceeding in a civil, housing, small claims, family or family support magistrate matter. A Limited Appearance may not be filed for a particular length of time, the exhaustion of a fee or to address a specific issue. Whenever a limited appearance is filed for a party, the limited appearance shall be filed in addition to any self-represented party appearance already on file. A limited appearance shall not be filed for a party when filing a new case or during the pendency of the action if there is no appearance on file for that party, unless the party for whom the limited appearance is being filed files an appearance in addition to the attorney’s limited appearance at the same time. 7. What happens after the attorney completes his or her limited representation?
When an attorney completes his or her limited representation of a party in accordance with the Limited Appearance which clearly defined the scope of the appearance, the attorney must file a Certificate of Completion of Limited Appearance, form JD-CL-122. A Certificate of Completion of Limited Appearance form is available in all Clerk’s Office, Court Service Center and Law Library locations and on the Judicial Branch website. The Certificate of Completion of Limited Appearance form must be filed with the court and copies must be provided to the client and opposing counsel or opposing party if unrepresented. After the Certificate of Completion of Limited Appearance form is filed, the attorney’s obligation to continue to represent the client is terminated. The attorney does not have to file a Motion for Permission to Withdraw his or her appearance or obtain the court’s permission to no longer participate in the proceeding. The client will have no right to object.

8. What impact might filing a limited appearance have on opposing counsel’s scope of communication with the client and attorney?
Counsel may directly communicate with the opposing party only about matters outside the scope of the limited appearance, without consulting with the party’s limited appearance lawyer.

9. Can the attorney and client agree that the attorney will extend representation beyond the scope of the limited appearance?

If the client and the attorney agree that the attorney will provide additional legal help, the attorney and the client will enter into a new agreement and the attorney must file another Limited Appearance form identifying the additional events or proceedings. If the new agreement with the client is to represent the client for the entire case, the attorney will file a general Appearance form, JD-CL-12.
10. Who gets served notice of any pleadings once a Limited Appearance has been filed?
Whenever service is required or permitted to be made upon a party represented by an attorney with a limited appearance, for all matters within the scope of the limited appearance, the service shall be made upon the attorney and on the party for whom the limited appearance was filed. Service upon an attorney with a limited appearance shall not be required for matters outside the scope of the limited appearance.

11. What duties does the attorney owe the client when providing limited scope representation?
An attorney must follow all ethical rules and standards of professional responsibility whether providing full or limited representation to the client. Limited scope does not mean limited liability or limited responsibility. In addition, any changes in the scope of the representation must be documented using the Limited Appearance form that has been created for this purpose.