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California expands unbundling to all civil cases


announcerR At its October 20, 2006 business meeting, the California Judicial Council (policy-making body for the California court system) accepted Item A11, the proposal before it to extend limited scope representation to all civil cases, adopting the necessary court rules and model forms. The Report on Limited Scope Representation in Civil Cases of the Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee (Oct. 6, 2006, 39 pp. pdf), includes the proposals, with explanations, and samples of the now-adopted forms.  The Judicial Council adopted Cal. Rules of Court, rules 3.35, 3.36, and 3.37, and form MC-950 [Notice Of Limited Scope Representation]; and it approved forms MC-955 [Application To Be Relieved As Attorney On Completion Of Limited Scope Representation], and two related forms. The new rules and forms are effective Jan. 1, 2007.  (hat tip to M. Sue Talia, California unbundling pioneer)

The Advisory Committee’s Statement to the Council notes that the adoption of the new rules and forms “will make it easier for attorneys to provide limited scope representation to parties in civil cases. Previously adopted rules and forms had made such representation easier in family law proceedings. The new rules and forms will expand the provisions regarding limited scope representation to all types of civil cases.”  Pages 2 to 3 of the Report give a good summary of benefits to parties and the court system from the increased use of limited scope representation.  One new rule allows attorneys to assist with document preparation (ghostwriting) without disclosing their identity. We heartily agree with the Advisory Committee that these milestone changes are “advantageous to members of the public and the State bar.” 



  1. shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress » Blog Archive » Mass. project allows limited court appearances

    November 2, 2006 @ 12:05 pm


    […] The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has okayed a pilot project that would make it easier for lawyers and pro se litigants to enter into limited scope (”unbundled”) representation agreements in Probate and Family Court proceedings.  . . .  Similar rules already exist in several states, including:  – – California: California Rules of Court, Rule 5.70 and Rule 5.71  [update (Nov. 1, 2006): see Calif. Expands Unbundling to All Civil Cases] – – Florida: Unbundling Rules (discussed in this ABA Journal article)    – – Maine: Bar Rule 3.4(i); Civil Procedure Rules 5, 11 (b) and 89 (a). – – Nevada: Rules of Practice of the Eighth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada, Rule 5.2. – – As shlep has reported, court self-help centers in Idaho and Nevada compile lists of attorneys willing to take family law matters on a limited-scope basis. If you know of similar lists, let us know. […]

  2. “unbundling” legal services « practice management blog

    November 3, 2006 @ 3:25 pm


    […] At the blog shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress, David Giacalone reports on the California Judicial Council’s Oct. 20 vote to extend to all civil cases its rule permitting attorneys to provide limited-scope representation. Coincidentally, Massachusetts just approved a pilot project starting Nov. 1 under which lawyers may provide limited assistance to pro se clients in probate and family court, as I noted last week on my blog LawSites. […]

  3. shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress » Blog Archive » all bundled up in New York

    December 5, 2006 @ 3:47 pm


    […] Despite progress elsewhere, Rochelle Klempner’s presentation to a May 2006 Conference on Access to Justice for the Self-Represented (which was hosted by the NYS Courts and included a session on Unbundling), noted that “To date, New York has neither adopted nor proposed any changes to its Disciplinary Rules or Civil Practice Laws and Rules.”  Her paper, “Unbundled Legal Services in Litigated Matters in New York State (May 2006, 14 pp. pdf) looks at the history of the issue in the State,  […]

  4. shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress » Blog Archive » universal unbundling unfolds in California

    January 2, 2007 @ 7:56 pm


    […] Today is the first business day on which ”unbundled” legal services will be available in all civil cases in California courts (see our posting dated Nov. 1, 2006) Lawyers are now able to make “limited appearances” in every kind of California civil case, performing only the discrete tasks agreed upon by the attorney with his or her well-informed client.   Litigation unbundling is explicitly allowed in only a small number of states — and, in most of them, only in very limited contexts (usually family court and divorce matters).   Therefore, having universal unbundling unequivocally allowed in America’s most populous state is (to use a technical legal term) “a really big deal”. California Rules of Court 3.35(a) defines “Limited scope representation” as “a relationship between an attorney and a person seeking legal services in which they have agreed that the scope of the legal services will be limited to specific tasks that the attorney will perform for the person.”  Rule 3.36 covers “Noticed representation” — providing procedures for cases in which an attorney and a party notify the court and other parties of the limited scope representation.  Rule 3.37 covers “Undisclosed representation” (including ghostwriting and coaching). […]

  5. bellir

    February 28, 2007 @ 4:53 pm


    I would like to know if the rules 3.36, 3.37, 3.38 also apply to Florida.
    Your link to Florida is not working.

    I live in California but my medico legal malpractice case is in Florida. I have done a lot of work on my own case and wanted to find an attorney to help me with discovery papers and also with representation in court.

    I have built a website so it would be easier for the attorney.

  6. david giacalone

    February 28, 2007 @ 6:34 pm


    The California rules you mention are only applicable to California courts. Florida Rule of Professional Conduct 4-1.2(c) relates to scope of representation. It says:

    “(c) Limitation of Objectives and Scope of Representation. If not prohibited by law or rule, a lawyer and client may agree to limit the objectives or scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client consents in writing after consultation. If the attorney and client agree to limit the scope of the representation, the lawyer shall advise the client regarding applicability of the rule prohibiting communication with a represented person.”

    You will have to do further research, or ask a lawyer familiar with Florida law, whether other rules exists concerning appearing in court under a limited-scope of representation agreement.

  7. Teresa Aguilar

    May 12, 2007 @ 6:08 pm


    Do you know any lawyer in Los Angeles area who provides Limited Repentation? I have not been able to find one and I need help. To read about my case, just copy and paste the links below; some of my evidence can be seen in the last link that says “Exhibits.” Pls email me at with cc to to make sure I receive your reply. My case Nos.are Court of Appeal No. B195983
    (Super.Ct. No. BC-341721.) Thank you, teresa aguilar

  8. David R. Chamberlin

    May 6, 2009 @ 5:28 pm


    I am a California licensed attorney who has recently embarked on providing limited scope representation. Although at times maintaining the limitations as agreed upon can be difficult – a natural tendency exists to expand the lawyers role toward full representation – assisting people, often in the midst of litigation, protect and advance their rights has been extraordinarily satisfying.


    David Chamberlin,Esq.

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