Limited Scope Representation Practice Resources

Every year in Illinois, hundreds of thousands of people go to court without the help of an attorney. Nearly two-thirds of defendants are unrepresented, and for some types of cases, that number exceeds ninety percent. While some are “DIY litigants” who prefer to go it alone, the vast majority would rather have an attorney—they simply can’t find or can’t afford one.

Limited scope representation is designed specifically for these situations, allowing attorneys to focus their expertise on discrete issues and actions, while the clients handle the other parts of the case independently. The tools and resources below can help you incorporate limited scope representation into your practice and connect with prospective clients.

Limited Scope Toolkit
The Limited Scope Representation Toolkit released by the CBF and its partners is a practical resource for Illinois lawyers seeking to expand or add limited scope representation as one of their service offerings. The resources in this toolkit—including rules, forms, checklists, and a sample engagement letter—are intended to assist attorneys in understanding the limited scope rules and using them in an ethical and effective manner to make their services more accessible and affordable for clients who might not otherwise be able to afford full representation.
CBA Webinar

In this CBA webinar (CBA membership required), experts and practitioners discuss the nuts and bolts of the limited scope rule changes and outline ethical considerations in providing unbundled services. A panel of lawyers also discuss how they use limited scope representation to help their clients and will share best practices and other tips for effectively providing representation under the limited scope rules.

CBA Limited Scope Referral Panel

The CBA referral panel is a list of experienced private attorneys who offer limited scope representation among their services. The panel includes attorneys practicing in the following areas of law: landlord/tenant, consumer/collections, and domestic relations.

Limited Scope Forms

The Illinois Supreme Court has approved a suite of forms for attorneys to use when entering limited scope appearance in the Illinois state civil courts.

Limited Scope Rules

The Illinois Supreme Court adopted several rule changes in 2013 to clarify and expand the scope of limited scope representation in Illinois. These changes were an important step in increasing access to legal representation and opening up new opportunities for lawyers.

  • Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 allows lawyers to “limit the scope of representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.”  Limited scope representation may also be called unbundled or a la carte legal services. Examples of limited scope representation include coaching self-represented litigants, giving limited legal advice, drafting and reviewing documents, gathering and preparing evidence, and even appearing in court for a portion of a case.
  • Supreme Court Rule 13 allows lawyers to make limited appearances in civil court proceedings and to withdraw by oral motion or in writing after the representation is complete.  The rule includes forms for both entry and withdrawal of a limited scope appearance.
  • Supreme Court Rule 11 requires that the opposing party or counsel serve all documents on both the attorney and the party while the limited scope appearance is in effect.
  • Supreme Court Rule 137 allows lawyers to assist self-represented litigants by preparing and reviewing pleadings, motions, and other documents without signing the pleading or filing an appearance.
  • Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2 clarifies when a lawyer may communicate with a person represented by counsel on a limited basis.
  • Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5 clarifies that lawyers may counsel and coach self-represented litigants without filing an appearance.