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Limited Scope Representation

Are you an Illinois lawyer interested in offering limited scope representation to prospective clients? If so, this page is for you. It assembles the key legal references, background information, and resources about limited scope representation in Illinois – just follow the links to access the full text.

The information assembled here is designed to help orient lawyers to limited scope representation. It is not the final or complete word on how to provide limited scope representation within the bounds of the Rules of Professional Conduct or according to a professional standard of care. Lawyers consulting the information linked to from this page should use their professional judgment in determining how to provide limited scope services.

Illinois Legal References

Limited scope representation is governed by the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and the Supreme Court Rules. Supreme Court Rules 11, 13 and 137 were amended effective July 1, 2013 to permit lawyers to provide limited scope representation in civil proceedings.

  • Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2. Paragraph (c) permits lawyers to limit the scope of their representation where reasonable under the circumstances and with the client's informed consent. See also comments [6]-[8].
  • Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2. Comment [8A] addresses communications by a lawyer with a person represented on a limited basis under RPC 1.2(c).
  • Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5. Comment [3] states that lawyers may counsel non-lawyers who wish to proceed pro se, including through assistance provided under Supreme Court Rules 13(e) and 137(c)(6). 
  • Supreme Court Rule 11. Paragraph (e) contains the requirements for service when a party is represented by a lawyer making a limited scope appearance pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 13(e).
  • Supreme Court Rule 13. Paragraph (c)(6) permits and lays out the procedures for lawyers to make limited scope appearances in civil proceedings. Paragraph (c)(7) addresses withdrawal from limited scope appearances. The rule contains the forms required by the rule (the forms are linked to below). The commentary discusses limited scope appearances and withdrawal in detail.
  • Supreme Court Rule 137. Paragraph (e) allows lawyers to provide document preparation assistance to self-represented persons without making an appearance. The committee commentary adds further detail to the provisions of paragraph (e).

Illinois Forms

Lawyers making limited scope appearances under Supreme Rule 13 must use the forms specified in the rule. The forms are linked to here as a convenience but lawyers should be familiar with the requirements of Rule 13 and the other rules listed above before using them. 

  • Notice of Limited Scope Appearance
  • Notice of Withdrawal of Limited Scope Appearance
  • Objection to Withdrawal of Limited Scope Appearance

Illinois Background

The Rules of Professional Conduct of 2010 adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court included a revision to Rule 1.2(c) to expressly permit lawyers to limit the scope of their representation. Below are links to articles and reports exploring limited scope representation in Illinois in the wake of that rule change.

  • Limited Scope Representation Toolkit
  • Editor's Column, ISBA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Newsletter (March 2010)
  • Unbundling Explained, Illinois Bar Journal (October 2010)
  • Limited Scope Legal Representation: Final Report, Findings & Recommendations, Joint Task Force on Limited Scope Legal Representation (May 19, 2011)
  • Limited Scope Legal Representation: Issues for the Illinois Bench & Bar, Joint Task Force on Limited Scope Legal Representation (2010)

Practice Resources

Here is a small collection of non-commercial materials and other resources published to help lawyers provide limited scope representation. These may give useful guidance but they are not specifically tailored to Illinois practice. Fee agreements and related materials are presented as samples.

  • Expanding Your Practice Using Limited Scope Representation, M. Sue Talia and the Practising Law Institute, 2012. This is a three-hour web-based CLE program presented free of charge by PLI.
  • General Civil Limited Scope Representation, Risk Management Materials, Limited Scope Representation Committee, California Commission on Access to Justice.
  • Limited Representation Materials, assembled by the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration. (Some of these materials duplicate information contained in the California Risk Management Materials linked to above. They are presented separately here for easier access.)
    • Sample Limited Scope Representation Agreement
    • Best Practices for Limited Scope Discrete Task Legal Services
    • Client Brochure on Limited Scope Representation
  •  Handbook on Limited Scope Legal Assistance, American Bar Association Section of Litigation

 The collection of materials on this page was assembled by David Holtermann of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois. He may be contacted by email with feedback about the information on this page or lawyers' experience providing limited scope representation, but he cannot provide advice or practice guidance regarding individual cases.

Articles

  • Limited Scope Representation: Tales from the Trenches
    Ed Finkel
    Illinois Bar Journal, December 2015

    The limited scope rules have been in place for a few years now, and savvy, forward-thinking lawyers are using them to serve clients who would otherwise be lost to online document services.

  • It’s So Easy to Unbundle
    Illinois Bar Journal, March 2015

    Thanks to rule changes it's easy to take just a piece of a lawsuit.

  • A review: Pro se parties and unbundling in Illinois
    Athena T. Taite
    The Public Servant, December 2014

    Providing limited scope representation is a win-win for pro se parties and the legal community.

  • Why judges should embrace limited scope representation
    Hon. Michael B. Hyman
    Bench & Bar, April 2014

    Judges owe it to themselves—and the litigants and counsel appearing before them—to fully understand and follow the rules which the Supreme Court established principally as a response to the growing needs of self-represented parties.

  • Limited Scope, Expanded Opportunity
    Ed Finkel
    Illinois Bar Journal, October 2013

    Recent Illinois Supreme Court rule changes enable lawyers to represent clients in litigation for only a portion of a case. Proponents say that's good for lawyers, clients, and judges.

  • Unbundling family law
    Lisa M. Nyuli
    Family Law, September 2013

    Limited scope representation is sure to be with us as the practice of law continues to change. Family law practitioners need to be proactive in defining what that means for us, and for our clients, so that we can provide high quality services to our clients, regardless of the task.

  • New supreme court rules a boon to limited-scope representation
    Adam W. Lasker
    Illinois Bar Journal, August 2013

    Amended Rules 11, 13, and 137 create business opportunities for lawyers by making it easier to represent clients for part, but not all, of a lawsuit or transaction.

  • Unbundling, or unraveling?
    Dan Breen
    The Bottom Line, June 2012

    What is unbundling? The short, and rough answer is that unbundling is a la carte legal services, where a lawyer might provide a few frames of a client’s legal picture, as needed or requested, but that lawyer will not be directing the whole movie.

  • Limited-scope legal representation—Unbunding legal services
    Michael K. Goldberg
    General Practice, Solo & Small Firm, December 2010

    There are many issues that need to be worked out in order for the unbundling of legal services to be workable. Weigh in, and have your opinion on the subject heard.

  • Unbundling Explained
    Helen W. Gunnarsson
    Illinois Bar Journal, October 2010

    Limited scope or discrete task legal representation - aka "unbundling"- is a client- and lawyer-friendly idea whose time has come, proponents say.

  • Editor’s column: New “limited scope legal representation” rule gives solo and small firm practitioners special opportunity to expand practice with “unbundled legal services”
    John T. Phipps
    General Practice, Solo & Small Firm, March 2010

    Because we now have an opportunity to expand our services, we should all consider what “limited engagements” or “unbundling” means to our own practice and develop our own limited engagement agreements and opportunities.

  • Editor’s Column: unbundling services–A way lawyers can meet unmet legal needs and a create a source of fees!
    John T. Phipps
    General Practice, Solo & Small Firm, August 2005

    How often do we turn down cases because the time they would take and the fees would exceed the amount of the claim?