Arkansas Adopts Ethics Rules on Unbundling

Last month, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued an order adopting proposed changes to the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct that clarify the responsibilities of attorneys who offer their services to clients on a limited scope basis. Also known as “unbundled” or “a la carte” legal services, limited scope representation offers an affordable alternative to clients who cannot afford traditional full-service representation, opens up new business opportunities for lawyers, and facilitates greater efficiency in the court system. The rules went into effect on the day of the May 12 opinion.

Modification to Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(c), 4.2, and 4.3 provides more explicit guidance for attorneys who provide limited scope legal services.  Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c) authorizes Arkansas attorneys to provide this form of representation. That rule provides that “[a] lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.” Additionally, the revisions include the addition of language regarding when a client’s informed consent has to be in writing, as well as language clarifying an attorney’s communication responsibilities when the opposing party is represented by a limited scope attorney.

Links to the revised rules can be found below, and sample Notices of Limited Scope Representation and Notice of Completion can be downloaded from the links below.

Ark. R. Prof’l Conduct 1.2
Ark. R. Prof’l Conduct 4.2
Ark. R. Prof’l Conduct 4.3

Limited Scope Representation – Attorney Resources

Arkansas Resources

Arkansas Limited Scope Toolkit for Attorneys (coming soon)
Sample Notice of Limited Scope Representation – Family Law
Sample Notice of Limited Scope Representation – Other Civil
Sample Notice of Completion of Limited Scope Representation

National Resources

American Bar Association Resource Center on Unbundling

The Commission is working toward seeking additional changes to Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure to explicitly authorize the practice of ghostwriting and to permit attorneys who give proper notice of a limited scope arrangement in a court proceeding to be automatically relieved as counsel of record once the attorney has completed the limited scope representation. Drafts of those rules can be found here.

Resources for attorneys, including a toolkit, forms, CLE training, and a client referral network are under development and will be made available as they are developed.