"Partial Service is where legal responsibility is divided between the attorney and the client. Fully customizable to each client's needs, we offer Partial Service in both non-adversarial and adversarial contexts." Bryan Ginter, Esq.
Is your case in litigation and you want a low cost divorce? Do you have a family law issue that is being litigated and you don't want to spend an arm and leg on an attorney? Do you want to handle some aspect of your case while the attorney handles another part of your case? Do you want to be able to have easy access to an attorney to ask qustions to help guide you thorugh your divorce or other family law matter? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then a "partial service" arrangement may be a good fit for you.
Partial Service fee agreements between family law attorneys and their clients is growing in popularity and has also received statutory recognition. A Partial Service arrangement is one where the legal responsibilities of the case is somehow split between the attorney and the client such that each takes on some responsbility. A Full Service arrangement, on the other hand, is when he attorney shoulders all of the legal responsbility of the case.
Partial Service may be a good arrangement where the client only needs legal assistance with a portion of the case and feels comfortable in handling the remaining legal aspects of the case on his or her own, or where a client has limited funds and needs to prioritize legal fees in those areas where the client feels he or she needs to the most help.
Also, because a Partial Service arrangement can be customized and crafted to meet a client's particular needs, a Partial Service arrangement can be done in both non-adversarial (i.e., out-of-court) and a litigation (i.e., in-cout) contexts. As a non-adversarial example, the attorney could be hired only for "settlement and negotiations." An example of a Partial Service arrangement in a litigation context is if the attorney was hired to appear at only one hearing. So, as one can see, a Partial Service arrangement can be customized to meet the client's desires and needs, which will differ from person to person. It is a highly flexible divorce or other family law service.
Depending on the type of partial service contracted, the attorney may or may not become the "attorney of record." Broadly speaking, Partial Service can be broken up into two categories: 1) By Task or 2) By Issue. The following is a non-exclusive list of some examples of how an attorney could be involved in your case in a limited manner:
Partial Service by Task
Breaking up service by task is commonly done in the following ways:
1) Consultation Only: The client can set up appointments with the attorney for legal advice and reviewing of documents.
2) Consultation and Ghostwriting/Scrivener: The attorney consults with the client and drafts documents for the client as needed. The attorney does not become the attorney of record.
3) Legal Research: The attorney conducts legal research and then provides the client with a legal opinion.
4) Court Appearance: The client and attorney agree for the attorney to prepare, travel to and from and appear at specific hearings. All other hearings not specifically agreed for the attorney to appear at are the client's responsibility.
5) Negotiations and Settlement: The attorney contacts the other side (attorney or opposing party) and drafts documents related to settling the case.
Partial Service by Issue
1) Status-Only: The attorney is only involved to obtain a dissolution, legal separation or annulment. All other issues, including property division, child support and custody are handled by the client.
2) Domestic Violence: The attorney only deals with the issue of domestic violence.
3) Child Support: The attorney only deals with the issue of child support.
4) Spousal Support: The attorney only deals with the issue of spousal support.
5) Property: The attorney is only involved for some aspect dealing with property, such as propety division.
It is very important that duties of both the client and the attorney are specifically spelled out in the fee agreement as much as possible. You, as the client, should assume that, if something is not in the fee agreement, then it is your responsbility.
A caveat for the person that is contemplating a Partial Service arrangement with an attorney: First, since the attorney is not involved in the case to the extent he or she would be involved if the arrangement was one for Full Service, you should expect that the attorney will likely need more time in speaking with you and reviewing documents to be brought up to speed in order to take appropriate action and/or provide appropriate advice. Second, unless otherwise stated, the attorney will not monitor your case. You should be prepared for the extra responsibility that you will shoulder as a result of the attorney not fully covering the matter from a legal aspect. This includes your responsibility of proactively providing your attorney with developments in your case and various legal documents.
For the client that would like to shoulder some of the legal rseponsibility for areas that he or she has both the time and the comfort level for the same, and/or for a client who has limited funds but would like to focus those funds on areas in the case where it is felt he or she needs the most legal help, a Partial Service arrangment could be a great approach.