In California, the ‘limited scope’ law can be used for both family law and civil matters .  This law basically gives lawyers the ability to help people with partial or specific legal tasks, based on a contractual agreement, and charge a flat fee for the service.  Limited scope can be used for family and civil court appearances, as well as answers and responses, document preparation and other legal matters such as Divorce, Legal Separation, Annulment and Paternity Actions.

When legal matters are handled by ‘limited scope’ or an ‘unbundled’ approach, the client in most cases is still ‘in pro per’ or ‘without an attorney’ as this term means that they are not fully represented.  In these cases, the ‘attorney of record’ is the client.  The attorney may be assisting the client by preparing documents or responding to requests and can charge a flat fee for this.  However, if there are court appearances, the attorney can fully represent while in court only and can still offer a flat fee for the service.  In this way, lawyers can help clients who do not wish to pay, or may not need, the typical retainer and hourly rates that is usually offered.

The advantages of using ‘limited scope’ for your legal matter  are many:

  1. Affordable; no financial surprises
  2. Experienced Attorneys; knowledge of the courts, judges and correct procedures
  3. Legal advice;  know your legal rights
  4. Attorney oversight;  can complete the process and handle issues that may arise

Most people assume that they require ‘full representation’ when they are confronted with a legal matter–but this is not true.  Most legal matters are not that complex and can be handled in a ‘limited’ way for a flat fee or a ‘pay as you go’ system.

For court appearances, a ‘limited scope’ attorney will prepare a ‘limited scope’ contract stating that he/she will fully represent the client while in court and then when that specified time in court is complete, the attorney no longer fully represents.  For paperwork such as document preparation, responses, answers and other civil or family law matters, the attorney can advise the client and prepare the required paperwork while the client is still ‘in pro per’ or ‘without attorney’ for a flat fee.

For more information on ‘limited scope’ representation by family law lawyers or civil attorneys, contact the Legal Action Workshop law firm @800-HELP-444 (800-435-7444)  or visit our website .

Reader Interactions


  1. Mary McFadden says

    I need a limited scope attorney to represent me on a single issue at an appeals hearing. First I need someone to write a letter brief due Monday, March 21, 2016.

    Appeal court wants to know:

    (1) In ordering Mary McFadden to post a bond, did the trial court compl with CCP section 391.3, subdivision (a), which states, in pertinent part, “the court shall order the plaintiff to furnish, for the benefit of the moving defendant, security in such amount “and within such time as the court shall fixx”? (Italicfs added.) Did the trial court “fix” the time within which plaintiff was required to post the bond?

    (2) What was the deadline for plaintiff to post the bond?

    (3) The trial court ordered defendants City of Los Angeles, et al. to give plaintiff notice of the January 9, 2014 ruling declaring plaintiff a vexatious litigant, staying the matter until after she posted a bond, etc. On January 21, 2014 defendants City of Los Angeles, served plaintiff by mail with a notice of ruling. The trial court dismissed the action three days later based on plaintiff’s failure to post a bond. Did paintiff receive proper and sufficient notice of the trial court’s January 9, 2013 ruling?

    Mary McFadden

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      We do not help with this type of issue…sorry about that.
      Hope you can find someone who can help.
      Thank-you for contacting Legal Action Workshop!

    • Brenda Platt-Drucker says

      Limited scope refers to an attorney who fully represents you in court but no longer represents you once the court procedure is over. He/she may continue to prepare paperwork for you. The attorney would also prepare a contract that outlines exactly what kinds of services he/she will perform which would be signed by the client. A paralegal cannot represent you in court.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don't Waste Time & Money During the Divorce Process!

Enter your details below to download our FREE Step-by-Step Guide on California Divorce and learn how to save big!

Your Name...
Your Email...