Even though the courts and the marketplace are providing substantial assistance to self-represented litigants, the scope of this assistance is limited. Many, if not most litigants need more than the procedural assistance offered by these resources. They need to know more than which forms to use, how to docket their cases and what time to appear in court. They need assistance with decision-making and judgment. They need to know their options, possible outcomes and the strategies to pursue their objectives. In some cases, self-represented litigants need advocates for some portion of their matter. These services can only come from lawyers
With the input of lawyers, self-represented litigants can benefit from getting legal advice specific to their factual issues. Beyond mere advice, some self-represented litigants also need direction on completing their forms in ways that not only make the forms legally compliant but strategically advantageous to the litigant. They can benefit from document preparation that is not done merely mechanically but executed with foresight and judgment. Additionally, some self-represented litigants can optimize their outcomes if they have a lawyer advocate their interests before the tribunal. This may not be necessary for the entire litigation, but only for a limited purpose.
If you are charged with a crime and cannot afford an attorney, the government will provide a criminal defense attorney at no charge. If, however, you are sued, involved in a custody dispute, or damaged/injured through no fault of your own, there is no such right of representation. Many people find that the cost of legal services is an insurmountable barrier to hiring an attorney
Lawsuits involve lots of specialized work by highly paid professionals. Consequently, lawsuits are extremely expensive. Too often the cost of hiring a lawyer is so high that a person either cannot bring a meritorious suit or has to settle out of court because they cannot afford to fight frivolous claims. In many cases, these same people could handle parts of their case themselves with just a little assistance. Lawyers have traditionally been reluctant to assist with only a portion of a lawsuit for several legitimate reasons. Recognizing the negative effect this has on the public, state courts, and bar associations have in recent years made changes that remove some of these obstacles.
In 2006, the Mississippi Supreme Court established the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission to investigate the financial obstacles to providing legal services to those unable to pay for an attorney. After much investigation and several public hearings, the Commission released a report entitled, "Unmet Civil Legal Needs Report." In its report, the Commission noted that Ms. LaVerne Edney, general counsel for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Program, expresses her support for the "unbundling" of legal services.
In the years since Ms. Edney's statement several states, including Mississippi, have revised the rules to allow for limited scope representation ("unbundled" legal services) as a way to reduce legal costs and increase the availability of our court system to those unable to hire an attorney to handle the entire case.
Because the attorney is hired for only a limited purpose and thus limits his/her work to just that particular task, the cost of legal services is substantially reduced, even if the attorney charges a slightly higher rate. For example, if an attorney normally charges $215 per hour and works on a case for 100 hours the total legal cost would be $21,500. If, however, the party hires the attorney at $300 per hour but only needs 5 hours of work, the total cost would be $1,500.
There are dozens of websites such as legalzoom.com and uslegalforms.com, which offer forms designed to help a person draft a will or start a business. In some cases these are appropriate; in others, the improper use of a form can do much more harm than good.
We have several examples demonstrating that the use of these forms can be "penny wise and pound foolish." As stated in an August 2014 report entitled "An Analysis Of Rules That Enables Lawyers To Serve Self-Represented Litigants" made available by the American Bar Association:
How Freeland Martz, PLLC Can Help
Don't be priced out of the legal market. Freeland Martz is proud to offer limited scope representation as an alternative to meet your legal needs. If your case is appropriate for a limited scope representation, one of our qualified attorneys will provide legal services regarding only a specific area or task. Once that task is completed, the relationship is ended.
Due to the nature of a limited scope representation, it is often unimportant where you are located. So, in many cases, we can just as effectively represent you in the southern part of the state as we could here in Oxford.
Please note that not all cases are appropriate for limited scope representation. In some cases, an attorney is required. In many situations, you would be better served and get a better result by having an attorney assist with all aspects of the case. We understand that this is not always possible, though, and offer limited scope representation for those who understand the risks and benefits.
Depending on the nature of your legal matter and the needed legal services, Freeland Martz will charge either a flat fee or a per-hour fee. The costs will be discussed up front, so you know what to expect.
Limited scope representation is available for the following services and many others:
Whether you hire Freeland Martz, PLLC for the more traditional full-service legal representation or a limited scope representation, we will provide you with the best legal counsel and representation possible.
If you are interested in hiring Freeland Martz to provide limited scope representation legal services, pleasecontact us.