Modern Family Matters

What Is Limited Scope Representation, and What Should You Expect?

January 24, 2024 with Lewis Landerholm Season 1 Episode 125
Modern Family Matters
What Is Limited Scope Representation, and What Should You Expect?
Show Notes Transcript

We sit down with Founding Attorney, Lewis Landerholm, to discuss what limited scope representation entails in a family law matter, and how your attorney is able to help you under this type of representation. In this episode, Lewis covers the following:

  • What limited scope representation means and how it differs from full legal representation
  • What limited scope representation includes
  • Some examples of limited scope representation
  • Benefits of limited scope representation
  • How limited scope services work
  • When limited scope services terminate
  • What to do if you need further assistance

If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, please call our office at (503) 227-0200, or visit our website at

Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication is intended to provide legal advice nor does it constitute a client-attorney relationship, therefore you should not interpret the contents as such.

Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast devoted to exploring family law topics that matter most to you. Covering a wide range of legal, personal, and family law matters, with expert analysis from skilled attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcast provides answers, clarity, and guidance towards a better tomorrow for you and your family. Here's your host, Steve Altishin.

Steve Altishin  0:32  
I'm Steve Altishin, Director of Client Partnerships at Pacific Cascade Legal, and I'm here with our Founding Attorney, Lewis Landerholm, to talk about what limited scope representation is and how it works. So Lewis, how're you doing today?

Lewis Landerholm  0:47  
I'm doing well, Steve, how about yourself?

Steve Altishin  0:49  
Doing well, ready for this topic. So let's just start by explaining a little bit, if you can, what limited scope representation means and how it differs from full legal representation?

Lewis Landerholm  1:03  
Sure. And yeah, there's a lot of different ways that limited scope can be delivered, essentially. But essentially, the difference is, in traditional attorney client relationship, what most people think about is full representation, you hire somebody, we're going to work up the entire case, we're going to do the entire discovery process, we're going to then represent you in court and just run the entire case front to back, that works for a lot of people, but for various reasons, whether it's a situation where it's a less complicated situation, and and when we do consultations, you know, when when I'm talking to potential clients, I kind of go through, you know, how it all works, and what the options are, and what I think makes the most sense for their case, based off of complexity, like I said, also schedules, timing, and then cost. And so essentially, you know, a full representation case is going to be much more expensive than, say, a limited scope case, depend, depending on what type of work we're doing. limited scope can take a couple different forms. One, it can be limited to a project, say, somebody just wants to help but wants us to help with a, just like one hearing within the overall part of the case, then we can do that, depending on timing and availability. And then there's also the ability to, instead of, you know, running the entire case, we're available for advice. So what what will happen is a couple is negotiating, and they're working on terms and they're working on what what to what to do as far as a parenting plan what to do with the house, then we will have conversations in the background with one of the parties. And we'll we'll provide the advice to one of the parties so they understand what's normal what how a court would do something, and how you know, some of the terms in order to negotiate further and try to come to an agreement without having to go to court. So it's kind of like attorney assisted negotiation. And so there's a number of ways that we can operate that way, because a lot of clients, you're trying to figure this stuff out. But your resources are people in the world who have gone through it one or two times, you've got the internet, which is terrible resource, because it's not your situation. And so what what we do in those situations is we help our clients to understand what actually is normal and typical, and then how to apply it to their case. And then how to how to draft things so that it's actually enforceable. 

Steve Altishin  3:56  
I, first of all have to say, I agree with you on the internet. I mean, I don't know if I would want tick tock representing me. That's all right. But that kind of leads to, does the other side have to know? Does the court have to know? Do you need to let either the other side of the court know that you're there giving limited representation? 

Lewis Landerholm  4:24  
It depends. So there are ways, and the courts are figuring out more how to do limited scope representation in court, where then we actually are attorneys of record, and we can come on for a short hearing, like it would be like if we were just coming hired to do a temporary hearing, and that's midway through kind of a case but then we weren't handling the rest of the case, then the court would know that we're handling that portion and then we withdraw after the fact. So that's potential. There's a lot of times when the other side or the court doesn't know when we're just helping to advise in a negotiating or advise through the process so that if a client feels comfortable handling things themselves, and whether it's a financial decision or just a comfort decision, then we can work in the background and the other side, or the court doesn't have to know that, that we're working with a client.

Steve Altishin  5:19  
Can you have limited source, or scope representation without a case? Let's say I come in, and I just say, Look, you know, we haven't done anything yet. We may do something. And, you know, can you help me put together a petition?

Lewis Landerholm  5:36  
Yeah, it depends. Again, it depends on kind of what the we don't normally just do like a petition. But we've got a couple of different options where we have like a strategy session where the potential client and myself or a different attorney can sit down and kind of lay out the entire sort of roadmap of their case, and then they can take it to handle themselves or they can take it to, you know, then down the road, decide what they want to do. So that's one option to kind of sort of kickstart when people are unsure of, of how to begin, a lot of times, we work with clients, where we're negotiating the terms are we're helping to negotiate the terms in the background, then when the entire agreement is ready and done, then we will drop all the documents petition through judgment and the judgments, the last piece that finalizes the case, and then we take the entire packet, and we file the entire packet. So we're not beginning a case, nobody's filing a petition responding. And then going through the court process, we're doing an entire judgment packet that then begins and finalizes the divorce or a custody case, like right from as soon as those documents go in and a judge signs it, then everything's done. So there's, that helps for like privacy reasons. But then also, you don't have to pay the second filing fee, it doesn't feel like we're, you know, contentious by filing a case and then somebody having to respond. So it's just a way for amicable couples to come up with an agreement, but do it the right way, and not mess something up that then cost 1000s of dollars later to fix. And so that's kind of the typical way that it works, when we're helping through the negotiation process.

Steve Altishin  7:22  
Then it's fair to say that we provide expertise? This isn't just a case where we're writing something down, we're not just a scripter, but we actually, during limited scope, provide a lot of expertise and help.

Lewis Landerholm  7:39  
Yeah because typically, parties are good at figuring out the what's going to happen, but they don't necessarily understand or they don't have the expertise and the knowledge and the how, and that's where we come in with the handling 1000s of cases and helping 1000s of clients that we know what were the typical fights are gonna be if you've got a parenting plan, and you're talking about, you got a four year old, you got 14 years to figure out how to operate with another person, right, and how and where the fights typically happen. And so what we help with is trying to draft because you can come up with the best ideas in the world. But if you can't draft it, then nobody understands what's going on. And then it just creates problems later. Because then there's big old vague clauses in an agreement that just create issues. And so you know, that people use our expertise to expand a parenting plan. So we can get down the road as far as possible, if there's going to be any CO owning of property. Those are big areas where, where there's potential for issues later that can cause a lot of money to then go back to court to deal with it. And so a lot of times, it's, it's the filling in the gaps on how are we going to do things? What are the triggering events? How do we draft that? So that one, everybody understands what's happening to if a judge has to get involved later, they that's enforceable, and they understand what was actually trying to be accomplished at the time of the divorce?

Steve Altishin  9:11  
Yeah. Sounds like there's a ton of situations where it can really work. But are there any situations where maybe it isn't appropriate?

Lewis Landerholm  9:19  
I mean, the biggest ones are when you're negotiating with somebody who is not actually negotiating. And when they're just like, you know, if you are if you find yourself and you're just banging your head against the wall, because you're trying to be reasonable, and the other side, just will cannot be reasonable. Sometimes court is the fastest way to get a case to the finish line. You know, people think staying out of court is is always a good thing. That's not necessarily true. Going to a judge who then can make a decision sometimes is the right course of action and the right strategy, and that's what we help people understand. Like, you know, we litigate all day long so we're not afraid to go to court in court is not a skill. Every place for attorneys for US court is a tool that we use in the process to reach either reach agreement and force agreement. Because now, and now if the parties can agree somebody in the black robe sitting there will rule and cause in order to be put into place. Or it's just, we need that pressure of that date to then force actual conversation and reasonable conversation so that we're not just negotiating against ourselves. So it's really a you know, it's really a situation where once we know kind of what the other party is doing, how the negotiations are going, you can kind of tell if this is one that that can be negotiated. Or if you just need to, you know, force the issue with with a court violin.

Steve Altishin  10:52  
Yeah, totally get that. Hey, thank you, Lewis, for sitting down today to talk with us about what limited scope representation is, how it works, and who it works best for. So thank you for being here. 

Lewis Landerholm  11:07  
You're welcome. 

Steve Altishin  11:08  
And thank you, everyone else for joining us today. If anyone has any further questions, feel free to contact us we can get you connected with an attorney who can help you. And until next time, stay safe, stay happy and be well.

This has been Modern Family Matters, a legal podcast focusing on providing real answers and direction for individuals and families. Our podcast is sponsored by Pacific Cascade Legal, serving families in Oregon and Washington. If you are in need of legal counsel or have additional questions about a family law matter important to you, please visit our websites at or You can also call our headquarters at (503) 227-0200 to schedule a case evaluation with one of our seasoned attorneys. Modern Family Matters, advocating for your better tomorrow and offering legal solutions important to the modern family.