With the goal of certifying lawyers to provide limited
assistance representation (LAR) to clients in the Probate and Family Court and
also in Housing Court, the BBA has convened at least two LAR programs since the
beginning of 2013. This month we posed the question on the minds of many
attorneys: Can a Lawyer Make a Living Doing LAR for Paying Clients?
answer that question we turned to two solo practitioners -- both of whom are
veterans in providing LAR services to paying client -- Cynthia E. MacCausland
and Laura Unflat. Cynthia practices mostly in Probate & Family Court, but
occasionally in Housing Court; her office is in Norwood. Laura limits her
practice to the Probate & Family Courts in Norfolk, Middlesex and Suffolk
Counties; her office is in Wellesley.
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|Cynthia MacCausland ||Laura Unflat |
Without hesitation, both attorneys
responded “yes” to the question of whether LAR is a viable business model.
MacCausland reports that as much as 80 per cent of her practice involves LAR,
while for Unflat, the percentage varies from month to month.
to the two lawyers, LAR practitioners typically require the fees for each “court
event” to be paid up front. Unflat charges an hourly fee, and says she is
usually able to predict what a particular event will cost. MacCausland offers
her clients a flat fee, with a sliding scale based on their
“LAR is a great way to run a practice that’s more
efficient, and offers clients a different option than the traditional hourly
retainer, and protects the attorney more than a traditional retainer
relationship,” says MacCausland.
Unflat says she offers LAR to many of her
divorce clients. “I am sometimes involved early, for instance in the temporary
orders of a divorce case,” she says. “My goal is to avoid the time and expense
of a trial. This is beneficial to both the client and the court.”
both attorneys cite as a significant benefit of their filing a limited
appearance is that they need only represent a client for a particular event.
They are under no obligation to represent the client at trial, which is
especially helpful when there’s an attorney/client incompatibility or the client
can’t afford a trial.
Two final comments on the economics of doing
paying LAR work...
“LAR doesn’t always mean low-income,” says
MacCausland. “You can do LAR with wealthy clients. Everybody wants to know what
it costs no matter how much money they have.”
“In some situations you’re
better off economically doing LAR, because you’re getting paid for the work you
do, and not spending time on collections,” says Unflat.
here to get certified for Limited Assistance