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Ohio Lawyers Just Got Unbundled

What the hell does this mean? 

Unbundled services means an attorney is offering limited services.  He is not representing you for the entire lawsuit, from start to finish.  The recent change to the rules that govern attorneys in Ohio means lawyers are no longer tied to their clients' hip when they enter an appearance in a court case.  It means clients should be able to get cheaper services from small firms and solo practitioners.

What changed?

Previously, if you were a party to a lawsuit and you wanted to hire a lawyer, your lawyer represented you for the entire case.  Your lawyer could jump off the case in limited circumstances, but he or she had to ask the Court's permission.  That was a pain in the ass for the attorney.  Some courts had local rules that made attorneys jump through hoops if they wanted to withdraw from a client’s case.  Some had local rules that actually prohibited attorneys from withdrawing if the case was too close to trial.  As a result, it was difficult to hire an attorney for single a hearing or a limited function in a lawsuit.

So, the Supreme Court of Ohio amended Civil Rule 3.  The new portion reads:

An attorney’s role may be limited in scope, as authorized by Prof.Cond.R. 1.2(c), if that scope is specifically described in a “Notice of Limited Appearance” stating that the limited appearance has been authorized by the party for whom the appearance is made, and filed and served in accordance with Civ.R. 5 prior to or at the time of any such appearance.  The attorney’s limited appearance terminates without the necessity of leave of court, upon the attorney filing a “Notice of Completion of Limited Appearance” filed and served upon all parties, including the party for whom the appearance was made, in accordance with Civ.R. 5.  If there is no objection within ten days of service of this notice, then no entry by the court is necessary for the termination of the limited appearance to take effect.

How does that help consumers?

The key change is unbundled services are expressly authorized and the Supreme Court of Ohio cut the red tape, making it easier for attorneys to offer these services.  It placed the decision of what attorney represents the client back in the hands of the client.  Attorneys who enter a limited appearance no longer need to ask the Court permission to withdraw from the case.  They just file a notice saying their job is done, and unless the client objects, they’re off the case in 10 days.

Clients can hire an attorney to represent them in a single hearing, then jump off the case.  Clients can hire an attorney to depose a witness, then jump off the case.  Clients can hire an attorney to file and defend a motion, then jump off the case.  The only downside seems to be this will only work in matters where the attorney charges a flat fee or an hourly fee (it would be hard to hire someone on a contingent fee since he may not be on the case when you get paid).

If you need an attorney for limited, unbundled services, contact us to see if we can help.

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Columbus, OH 43206

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