LIMITED ASSISTANCE REPRESENTATION
What is Limited Assistance Representation? Limited Assistance Representation, also known as LAR, permits qualified attorneys to assist a self represented individual on a limited basis, without undertaking a full representation of the client on all issues related to the legal matter. The client and the qualified attorney enter into a written agreement as to the scope of the representation, and what specific tasks or issues he/she agrees to provide to the client. The attorney's appearance in a matter will be limited to the agreed upon involvement and representation.
What does Limited Assistance Representation encompass? The attorney's involvement and representation of a client in a particular matter is defined within the agreement, limiting the attorney's role to a portion or portions of the case. For example, a client may elect to have an attorney draft pleadings, assist the client in preparing a pleading, motion, or other document, represent the client at a particular hearing, and/or provide direction and/or education regarding specific legal issues related to the case. The client may want the attorney to represent him/her at a Pre-Trial Conference, at a hearing on Temporary Orders, or at Trial. In the event the attorney "ghostwrites," that is assists the client with the preparation of a motion, pleading, or other document, the attorney must insert the notation "prepared with assistance of counsel" on the pleading, motion, or document, but there is no requirement that an attorney sign the specific pleadings or documents.
An attorney making such a limited appearance on behalf of a client must file a specific Notice of Limited Appearance as designated by the Court, indicating to the court the event to which the limited appearance pertains, and if such appearance does not extend to all issues to be addressed at a specific event. The Notice must also identify the specific issues the attorney will be addressing.
Upon completion of the representation of the client within the scope of a limited appearance, the attorney must withdraw by filing a Notice of Withdrawal of Limited Appearance, including the client's name, address, and telephone number. A Notice of Withdrawal of Limited Appearance must be filed for each court event in which the attorney filed a Notice of Limited Assistance.
If after the attorney files his/her Notice of Withdrawal of Limited Assistance, he/she is not foreclosed from filing a Notice of Limited Assistance for another aspect of the case, at a later date and time. Thus, the client has the ability to obtain legal representation for certain aspects of the case, as he/she feels he/she needs, and/or is able to afford, and is able to "re-retain" the attorney. The client remains responsible for all other parts of the case.
Are all Attorneys able to provide Limited Assistance Representation? In order for an attorney to be considered a "qualified attorney," he or she must complete a course/information session on Limited Assistance Representation that is approved by the Chief Justice of the Trial Court Department in which the attorney seeks to represent a client on a limited basis. Lists of "qualified attorneys" are available at the Trial Court website. Clients are advised to confirm the attorney's eligibility to provide limited representation prior to entering into any fee agreement.
Is Limited Assistance Representation permitted in the Massachusetts Courts? Legal Assistance Representation is available in the Probate & Family Courts in Massachusetts, having been approved May 2009. The Limited Assistance Standing Order related to the Probate Court may be found by clicking here.
Standing Order No.1-11, Limited Assistance Representation and Substitute Counsel Pilot Project of the District Court Department, effective January 25, 2011, may be found by clicking here.
How do I know if Limited Assistance Representation is right for me and my case? Limited assistance representation is not appropriate in every case. It provides an alternative to self-representation for those with limited financial resources. Anyone interested in such representation is well advised to consult with an attorney who is a "qualified attorney," to learn whether he/she may benefit from limited representation.