The United States District Court
District of Colorado

Hon. Marcia S. Krieger, Chief Judge
Jeffrey P. Colwell Esq., Clerk of Court

Our mission is to serve the public by providing a fair and impartial forum that ensures equal access to justice in accordance with the rule of law, protects rights and liberties of all persons, and resolves cases in a timely and efficient manner.

Limited Representation

ADOPTION OF LOCAL RULE D.C.COLO.LAttyR 2(b)(1) AND LAttyR 5(a)-(b) ALLOWING LIMITED REPRESENTATION OF ALL PRO SE PARTIES IN CIVIL ACTIONS

Effective December 1, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado permits Limited Representation (also called "unbundling" or "discrete task representation") of all unrepresented parties -- non-prisoners and prisoners -- in civil actions.

The Clerk's Office of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has assembled the following collection of rules, forms, and resources to assist counsel – not to provide legal advice or a suggested course of conduct – but as a convenient compilation of materials applicable to providing limited representation to pro se parties in this District.

The Clerk’s Office, as the custodian of records, forms, and many of the assembled materials, welcomes your comments and suggestions to improve this compilation and to facilitate the ease of providing limited representation. Contact the Attorney Services Division by phone at 303-335-2043, or by e-mail at LocalRule_Comments@cod.uscourts.gov.

 

  • Local Rules, Instructions, Forms, and Frequently Asked Questions regarding Entering and Withdrawing an Appearance on a Limited Representation Basis under D.C.COLO.LAttyR 2(b)(1) and LAttyR 5(a)-(b)
  • Download Attorney "How-To" Instruction Packet About Limited Representation

    (PDF)
  • Civil Action Entry of Appearance to Provide Limited Representation
  • (DOCX)
  • Sample Motion for Leave to Provide Limited Scope Representation
  • (DOCX)
  • Sample Motion for Leave to Withdraw from Limited Scope Representation
  • (DOCX)

     

    Sample forms for limited representation are also available on the District Court's Forms website page under Attorney/Law Student and Civil Pro Bono.  Sample forms for pro se parties to request appointment of limited representation by counsel are available under the Self Representation (Pro Se) section of the Forms page.

     

    Limited Representation Frequently Asked Questions

     

    Q. What is Limited Scope Representation (LSR)?

    A. Limited Scope Representation (LSR) (also called “unbundling” or “discrete task representation”) is a growing trend for attorneys of all types of practices that allows an attorney to assist a person with part, but not all, of a legal issue or case. Under this District’s local attorney rules – specifically, D.C.COLO. LAttyR 2(b)(1) and LAttyR 5(a)-(b) – LSR is permitted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in all civil cases, including prisoner civil rights petitions, immigration matters, appeals of bankruptcy or federal agency decisions, including the Social Security Administration, but NOT criminal cases, including petty offense and misdemeanors. In LSR, the attorney and party in a case (LSR may also apply to persons in a pre-filing status) enter into a written agreement that defines the particular duties the attorney and client will undertake, and recognizes that on completion of a service or task, the attorney will seek to withdraw from the case and may terminate the attorney–client relationship. LSR can be entered into based on the payment of attorney fees, or the LSR can be done on a pro bono, no-fee relationship, or both (with a contingent fee or attorney fee agreement).

    Q. Who can use LSR? When can LSR be used?

    A. Effective December 1, 2016, any unrepresented (“pro se”) party and lawyer in a civil case can engage in an LSR agreement, and the attorney may appear in court with approval of the court, after requesting the court’s permission through a motion and, when granted by the court, followed by the filing of an Entry of Appearance to Provide Limited Representation. LSR is available for an attorney to enter into at any stage of litigation, for most purposes – again, subject to the court’s approval. The pro se party and the lawyer should come to a written agreement that clearly defines the duties and goals of the representation in a document often termed as an engagement letter or written fee agreement.

    Q. Why is Limited Scope Representation allowed in court?

    A. This District first permitted Limited Scope Representation in 2014 for counsel appearing on behalf of unrepresented prisoners. After initial success, and with the recognition that most pro se litigants cannot afford legal representation, the Court decided to permit LSR for all parties in all civil cases. Limited representation can assist the pro se litigant, opposing counsel, and the Court with such matters as facilitating a pro se party’s wishes and thoughts into properly formatted and drafted legal writings; to allow pro se parties to have the litigation expertise of experienced lawyers in hearings and trials, and the assistance of experienced attorney negotiators in settlement discussions and proceedings.

    Q. Should the court play a role in reviewing an attorney-client limited representation agreement?

    A. Probably not. The engagement letter/written fee agreement is a private document for the party and the LSR attorney, absent a Court order directing otherwise. The Court will need to know the “clearly defined” limited scope of representation duty that the attorney is undertaking, as expressed in the attorney’s motion to provide limited representation and entry of appearance to provide limited representation in order to know when the representation ends and the attorney is no longer involved in a case.

    Q. What duties does an attorney owe a client when there is Limited Scope Representation?

    A. It is important to remember that an attorney is obligated to follow all the rules of professional conduct applicable to all counsel through the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. The Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee’s formal Ethics Opinion 101 titled “Unbundling/Limited Scope Representation,” revised in May 2016 provides a thorough analysis and tutorial on the interplay of the Colo. RPC with limited representation. It is available on the Colorado Bar Association’s website here.

    Q. How does a party find a lawyer who will represent him/her on a limited basis?

    A. There are numerous resources for a party to find counsel to assist with a case, or before a case is filed, including the Colorado Bar Association’s Find-A-Lawyer program available for all litigants, and the Denver and other metro cities’ partnership with Metro Volunteer Lawyers, available to parties of limited financial means. In this District, a program is available to pro se parties of limited means, known as the Civil Pro Bono Panel, described here. The program provides a lawyer for qualified pro se litigants with Court approval and based on counsel’s voluntary decision to accept a case. LSR is one of the possible services available from lawyers on the Panel.

    Q. How does a lawyer become qualified to assist someone on a limited basis?

    A. Currently there is no formalized training available to bar members, though the Faculty of Federal Advocates – the federal court’s local trial bar – periodically conducts training seminars for attorneys. Civil Pro Bono Panel members are required to be members of this District’s bar in good standing, and many resources are available for educational purposes and guidance, including the Colorado Bar Association’s Modern Law Practice Initiative website page, available here. Another valuable resource is a comprehensive list and links to materials compiled by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System’s Better Access through Unbundling 2017 conference, available here. See also the American Bar Association’s Unbundling Resource Center.

    Q. What are some of the ways an attorney can help a litigant using LSR?

    A. An attorney can provide legal advice prior to the initiation of litigation and provide counsel as to what a person’s legal options are. Once litigation commences, an attorney can provide advice, draft legal documents in a case, appear on behalf of a litigant at a court hearing or trial, assist with a discovery evidence-gathering proceeding or activity, and represent the party in a settlement or other dispute resolution activity, among many other services and duties. The attorney, however, must request the Court’s permission first in the motion to provide limited representation – with a clearly-defined scope of the limited representation – before engaging in the limited representation. After the completion or conclusion of that issue or event, the attorney must file a Motion for Withdrawal of Limited Appearance. The Motion for Limited Appearance and Motion for Withdrawal of Limited Appearance sample forms are available on this District’s Forms page, and at the end of this informational packet.

    Q. If an attorney wants to file a Motion for Withdrawal of Limited Appearance and the client claims withdrawal is premature, what is the Court’s role?

    A. An attorney’s motion for withdrawal of representation, limited or not, must set forth the basis and circumstances requiring the withdrawal, and must show good cause why withdrawal is necessary. If the initial motion for limited representation and entry of appearance clearly explained the role and duties of counsel, and if those services have been completed and are clearly demonstrated as such, the pro se party’s objection will likely need strong evidence and argument to overcome the presumption that the attorney has fulfilled the attorney’s obligation.

    Q. What if the attorney and client agree that the attorney will extend representation beyond the scope of the limited appearance?

    A. Local Attorney Rule 5(a)(2) requires counsel to seek approval of the Court in the event of any change regarding the scope of the limited representation. A revised motion to provide limited representation that describes the extended or modified scope of representation should be submitted.

    Q. Who gets served notice of any pleadings once an Entry of Appearance to Provide Limited Representation has been filed?

    A. The pro se party will continue to receive all notices, either by mail or by Notices of Electronic Filing (if the pro se party is an e-filer), as will the LSR attorney after filing the motion and entry of limited appearance, and until being granted permission to withdraw. The pro se party will receive all opposing party and court notices and filings, since the LSR attorney’s role may be limited to a single service or objective, unrelated to other litigation in the case (i.e., serving as a settlement attorney).

    Q. May an attorney request leave to enter an appearance to provide limited representation for more than one purpose?

    A. Yes, an attorney may request leave to enter an appearance to provide limited representation for more than one purpose. Many purposes are related in such a way that requesting leave for multiple purposes at the same time makes sense. For example, if an attorney seeks leave to provide limited representation to prepare a motion for summary judgment, the attorney may also consider seeking leave to prepare a reply in support of the motion and/or argue the motion if a hearing is ordered. If an attorney seeks leave to provide limited representation to prepare an amended complaint, the attorney may also consider seeking leave to prepare a response to any Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 motion that may be filed with regard to the amended complaint. Attorneys should consider whether seeking leave to provide limited representation for more than one purpose favors judicial efficiency and economy, so that an attorney need not file multiple motions over the course of providing limited representation. Any change in the scope of limited representation requires Court approval.

    Q. What is ghostwriting?

    A. Ghostwriting is a term used to describe the drafting of documents by an attorney for a client without filing an appearance in the client’s case. In that sense, ghostwriting is not permitted under the District of Colorado’s Local Rules. However, an LSR attorney who seeks permission to assist the pro se party with the drafting of a court document may do so, and the attorney’s participation will be fully disclosed and known to all litigants in the case. While "ghostwriting" in the sense of unknown and unattributed assistance is prohibited, an LSR attorney is welcome to assist with preparing case documents dependent on full disclosure of the assistance and with the approval of the Court.