top of page

What You Need to Know About Limited Scope Representation

In California, limited scope representation is the technical name for “unbundling.” It is a way that an attorney can help you with part of your case while you do the rest of your case.


For example:

  1. You can consult with an attorney to prepare or review your paperwork, but attend the hearing yourself;

  2. You can represent yourself through the whole case, and periodically consult with an attorney who can coach you on

    the law, procedures, and strategy;

  3. You can do the preparation yourself and hire an attorney just to make the court appearance for you;

  4. You may want to do your own investigation of the facts (“discovery”) and ask the attorney to assist you in putting the

    information in a format which is useful to the court;

  5. You may ask the attorney to be on “standby” while you attend the settlement conference yourself.


With limited scope assistance, you may be able to handle the whole case yourself, except for a few technical areas, such as pension rights, where the attorney can help you. It really is between you and the attorney how much of your case you hire them to do. If you do this, it is important to keep returning to the same attorney. Otherwise, you’re paying a new person to get up to speed on your case and each time that you consult.

Some areas of law are extremely technical and it is rare for non-attorneys to effectively handle them. Among these are pension rights, stock options, and business interests. You will almost certainly need the assistance of an attorney if your case involves any of these issues.

Why it is important to discuss your case thoroughly with your attorney.

It is important to thoroughly discuss all aspects of your case (even those which you think are simple) with your attorney before deciding which parts you want to do yourself and which ones the attorney will assist you with. It is equally important to realize that there may be important issues presented by your case that you aren’t even aware of. You could be at serious legal risk about an issue you don’t even realize exists. If you don’t discuss them with your attorney, how will you know?


Never make assumptions about the law which applies to your case. The law shows you’ve seen on TV are rarely accurate, and just because you’ve “seen it on TV” doesn’t mean it is correct, or even “legal.” The only way you know this is to talk it over with a qualified attorney.


Sometimes new issues will pop up after your case is started. If they do, it is important to advise your attorney and discuss them, so that you know the potential legal consequences to you. Remember that your attorney can only advise you on matters you tell him/her about, so it is essential that you provide complete information about your case.


Remember, you and your attorney are working as a team. That means good communication and a clear understanding of each person’s assignments is essential.

bottom of page