Mass. OKs Limited Counsel to Pro Se Clients

Massachusetts’ highest court has approved a pilot project starting Nov. 1 under which lawyers may provide limited assistance to pro se clients without obligating themselves to take on the clients’ full representation. The project, recommended by the Supreme Judicial Court’s Steering Committee on Self-Represented Litigants, will run for 18 months in the Probate and Family Courts in Boston and Springfield.

The order provides that an attorney “may limit the scope of his or her representation of a client if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.” An attorney may enter a limited appearance on behalf of a client for a specific purpose, such as to attend a hearing involving a temporary order, to present a motion, to appear at a conciliation session or to present the case at trial. The order says:

“The Notice shall state precisely the court event to which the limited appearance pertains, and, if the appearance does not extend to all issues to be considered at the event, the Notice shall identify the discrete issues within the event covered by the appearance.”

The pilot project also allows lawyers to assist pro se litigants in “ghostwriting” court documents. The document would be signed by the client, but include the notation, “prepared with assistance of counsel.”

The court’s order authorizing the pilot project can be found at this link.

[Via Massachusetts Law Updates.]