Effective January 1, 2015, limited scope representation1 (LSR) presents Wisconsin licensed attorneys the ability to specifically define their “role in an action … to one or more individual proceedings or issues if specifically so stated in a notice … filed and served upon the parties prior to or simultaneous with the proceeding.”2
James Carson Whedbee Bock, Minnesota 1998, is principal of JCWB ESQ LLC, Hudson, where he concentrates his practice on sports and family law and on criminal, civil, and appellate proceedings in state and federal courts.
While an option under the former SCR 20:1.2, the use of LSR was minimal before enactment of the LSR statute. In offering legal services in a family law action, attorneys had reasonable apprehension on any limitation on their scope of representation due to potential ethical problems, malpractice issues, recognition by the courts, and law firm policies.
Now, an attorney may offer LSR in jurisdictional challenges, pre-judgment document drafting and review, issue specific appearances and hearings, post-decree placement disputes and support proceedings, and coaching and consulting – allowing clients to budget and choose assistance on truly difficult “limited” issues.
The LSR Statute
Wis. Stat. section 802.045 Limited scope representation permitted – process.
(1) Authorized. An attorney's role in an action may be limited to one or more individual proceedings or issues in an action if specifically so stated in a notice of limited appearance filed and served upon the parties prior to or simultaneous with the proceeding. Providing limited scope representation of a person under this section does not constitute a general appearance by the attorney for purposes of s.801.14.
(2) Notice of limited appearance.The notice of limited appearance shall contain the following information:
(a) The name and the party designation of the client.
(b) The specific proceedings or issues within the scope of the limited representation.
(c) A statement that the attorney will file a notice of termination upon completion of services.
(d) A statement that the attorney providing limited scope representation shall be served with all documents while providing limited scope representation.
(e) Contact information for the client including current address and phone number.
(3) Service. Service shall be made under s. 801.14 (2m).
(4) Termination of limited appearance.At the conclusion of the representation for which a notice of limited appearance has been filed, the attorney's role terminates without further order of the court upon the attorney filing with the court, and serving upon the parties, a notice of the termination of limited appearance. A notice of termination of limited appearance shall contain all of the following information:
(a) A statement that the attorney has completed all services within the scope of the notice of limited appearance.
(b) A statement that the attorney has completed all acts ordered by the court.
(c) A statement that the attorney has served the notice of termination of limited appearance on all parties, including the client.
(d) Contact information for the client including current address and phone number.
(5) Forms. The director of state courts shall provide the clerk of circuit court in each county forms for use in filing notices required under this section.
More to Come
For more information on LSR in family law, set your calendar to attend the 37th Annual Family Law Workshop in Door County, Aug. 2-4, 2018, when the Family Law Section will present an interactive seminar on limited scope representation lead by James Bock and Dan Bestul.
1 See Sup. Ct. Order No. 13-10, 2014 WI 45, filed 6-27-14, eff. 1-1-15.