The information and resources on practicePRO’s Limited Scope Representation page are intended to help you understand some of the risks inherent in providing limited scope legal services, and how you can reduce your exposure to a claim when working for a client on an unbundled basis.
LAWPRO’s concern that unbundling could lead to more claims stems from the fact that the biggest causes of claims against lawyers – communication issues and inadequate investigation or discovery of facts – are at least equally, if not more likely, to occur during the provision of unbundled legal services. See this LAWPRO magazine article for a more detailed description of these claims risks.
What are limited scope or “unbundled” legal services?
At its very simplest, the “unbundling” of legal services, also commonly called “limited scope representation” or “a limited scope retainer” (which now is a defined term under the Rules of Professional Conduct), is “the provision of legal services by a lawyer for part, but not all, of a client’s legal matter by agreement between the lawyer and the client.” Limited scope legal services are already occurring in many areas of practice in Ontario.
To help Ontario lawyers lessen their risk of a claim when they are working on a limited scope retainer, LAWPRO has collected the following resources and precedents which can be used and adapted to a firm’s specific needs:
- Best Practices Tip Sheet, Limited Scope Representation: Follow these practical tips to effectively manage your limited scope representation files and lower your risk of a malpractice claim. (PDF version, Word version)
- Flow Chart for Lawyers: This sets out the typical steps involved in a limited scope representation. (PDF version, Word version)
- Retainer Agreement, Limited Scope Representation (family law): This retainer precedent helps set out the lawyer and client’s respective responsibilities. (PDF version, Word version)
- Checklist of Services, Limited Scope Representation: Use this checklist to clearly indicate the menu of unbundled services your firm offers (it mirrors the list in the retainer precedent). (PDF version, Word version)
- Client Handout, What Is Limited Scope Representation? This one page handout helps the client understand the nature of a limited scope representation. (PDF version, Word version)
- Client Handout, What Are the Steps? A Flow Chart: Use this flow chart to help your clients understand the steps that will occur on a limited scope representation file.(PDF version, Word version)
- Client Handout, Tips for Keeping Your Family Lawyer’s Legal Fees Down: This handout gives the clients a playbook for all their dealings with your firm. (PDF version, Word version)