September 1, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Bar board sends unbundled rules to the Supreme Court Bar board sends unbundled rules to the Supreme Court Senior EditorPraising them as model rules that will help both clients and lawyers, the Bar Board of Governors has passed amendments to specifically allow unbundled legal services in family law cases.At its August 16 meeting in Sarasota, the board endorsed without any changes the recommendations of the Unbundled Legal Services Special Committee II and forwarded them to the Supreme Court. Earlier this year, the court asked the Bar to formulate proposals allowing lawyers to handle only parts of cases for litigants in family law cases.The court, however, noted it has not reached any conclusions that such rules are needed but said it wanted such proposals when it considers the issue later this year.“This is really an access to the court issue,” said board member Sharon Langer, who chaired the first unbundled services committee and was vice chair of the second. “The ABA has found that unbundling is the number one way of increasing access. And it’s a way to get lawyers back into the mix where clients are doing it all themselves.”Board member Arthur Rice said he had initially opposed the effort but the final draft won his support. He added, though, that there should be monitoring if the rule changes eventually are adopted by the courts.Langer said the Family Law Section, the Family Courts Steering Committee, and the Conference of Circuit Court Judges supported the amendments. The Small Claims Rules Committee, the Trial Lawyers Section, and the Young Lawyers Division opposed the alterations. The Family Law Rules Committee supported the rules with some suggested changes, which were made.“We don’t think there can be sufficient safeguards to have the clients’ interests served,” YLD President Juliet Roulhac told the board. “We don’t know that this is the best rule, the best format.”YLD President-elect Mark Romance added that the YLD board had doubts that a lawyer could handle only one aspect of a case without affecting other areas. For example, he said, equitable distribution issues might affect child support.But board member Henry Latimer disagreed, noting most cases don’t have equitable distribution issues. “I think over 70 percent of litigants in family cases go unrepresented,” he said. “It’s a very, very good rule and a good place to start.”He said lawyers who now get a call to help with a custody issue might be reluctant to get involved because they would become responsible for the entire case. With the proposed changes, they can help out on that crucial issue without getting bogged down in other details and issues, and hence will be more likely to help, Latimer said.Langer told the board there are three main proposed changes:The first is to Bar Rule 4-1.2. “Basically the rule will clarify that limited representation in this state is allowed, the limited representation must be reasonable, and an attorney-client relationship is in fact formed,” Langer said.All the Bar rules on the attorney client relationship would apply, she said, adding the rule also requires the limited representation agreements be in writing.Changes to Rules 4-4.2 and 4.4-3 are identical, she said. They clarify when opposing counsel may or may not contact the party directly when there is limited representation. Basically, the opposing attorney must contact the party’s attorney of the parts of the case where the attorney is providing limited representation, Langer said.The third change is to Rule 12.040 of the Family Law Rules of Procedure.“This is to meet what the Supreme Court is asking us to do,” Langer said. Among other things, the rule allows limited representation in court and out of court, requires court permission to switch from full representation to limited representation, mandates that if an attorney assisted a pro se litigant in preparing a pleading or other document the document must say so, although the attorney’s name need not be given, and allows the attorney to file a notice of completion when the limited representation is concluded. Judicial approval is not needed to leave the case when the limited representation is finished.The Official Notice detailing the exact wording of the proposed rules changes can be found here.