Written by Briane Cornish
A District of Columbia bar committee has proposed several rule changes that will facilitate the provision of limited scope legal representation. Limited scope representation makes legal services more affordable to low- and moderate-income individuals, by allowing them to use a lawyer for smaller tasks such a one-time consultation or help with preparing a document. For example, you could agree with a lawyer to pay a flat rate amount simply for review of a contract. Or you could pay another flat rate amount to have an experienced attorney represent you in court on one or several dates (as opposed to throughout your entire case).
Responsive Law sent two recommendations to the DC Bar in response to its proposal. We advised the committee that they should offer an exception to the written requirement for telephone consultations and online consultations. There are a slew of online Q&A sites and legal aid hotlines that offer quick and easy access to any legal inquires you may have. We believe it is impractical for a lawyer to acquire a written agreement if you are speaking on the phone with them or are asking your questions via an online site. We also recommended that the DC Bar set, as a default, that important court documents should be served on the client and not the attorney. The concern here is that if someone pays an attorney to review a document or attend one case only, the attorney, rather than the client, may end up receiving important documents from opposing counsel. To decrease the possibility of clients not receiving important documents, the DC Bar should require that opposing counsel serve documents on the client unless specifically told otherwise.
You can read our comments to the D.C. Bar here.
Briane Cornish is a Responsive Law intern.