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Lawyer Coach: An Option for Limited Legal Assistance

While most attorneys often choose to represent clients who sought full representation, attorneys are increasingly serving as a lawyer coach to clients who need limited representation or require coaching through a legal issue. Traditionally, attorneys have opted to either provide full representation or decline involvement in a case. Consequently, this has excluded clients who are unable to afford the cost of hiring an attorney. Current trends indicate that while some attorneys still refuse to provide legal coaching, others are increasingly willing to help clients with limited aspects of a case.

When Would You Need a Lawyer Coach?

A lawyer coach is a lawyer who offers limited legal representation, or serves as a "consulting attorney" or a provider of "limited scope legal assistance." The scope agreed upon by the coach and the client limits the extent of representation. A lawyer coach helps the client resolve legal issues by reviewing the law and facts applicable to the case. Limited representation provides moderate and lower income people access to the legal system at a more reasonable cost than full representation.

How to Find a Lawyer Coach

A list of lawyers willing to act as legal coaches is available through bar associations or through referrals from law schools, courthouses, or legal clinics. Before selecting a legal coach, consider the attorney's specialty and experience in the relevant area of law. A lawyer coach with knowledge in a particular area of law can offer better guidance than a lawyer that is unfamiliar with the practice area.

What Services Can a Lawyer Coach Provide?

The help that a legal coach provides depends on the agreement reached between the lawyer and the client. The agreement should specify the legal problem that the lawyer will handle, the remedies the lawyer will use, and the services the lawyer will provide.

A lawyer coach can help clients by offering:

  • Preventive advice. A coach may offer preventive advice. For instance, a lawyer coach can give guidance about obtaining an emergency custody order, the consequences of failing to pay child support when directed by a custody order, or advise a client on how to proceed with a divorce.
  • Litigation advice. A legal coach can help determine whether a viable legal claim exists, offer advice on how to file a claim or proceed in an evidentiary hearing, and can help formulate questions for witnesses. A legal coach can also offer guidance on the legal strategy of a case or give advice about settlement offers.
  • Litigation coaching: Limited-services attorneys can provide coaching throughout a lawsuit. A lawyer may provide the client with relevant forms or may be on call to answer the client's questions. A coach, for instance, can help a client prepare Chapter 13 paperwork or proceed with a divorce case.
  • Preparation or review of legal documents. A limited-service lawyer can review or draft legal documents such as deeds to real property, motions, contracts, or pleadings.
  • Mediation coaching: If involved before mediation begins, a lawyer coach can offer advice about options, legal rules and procedures, and prepare the client for mediation. If the client obtains the lawyer's services after mediation, the legal coach can evaluate a proposed agreement and advise the client whether to accept, decline, or revise it.
  • Representation and coaching in uncontested disputes: Some legal coaches only provide limited representation to clients engaged in uncontested disputes, such as in a divorce settlement.
  • Full representation: If a case becomes more complex than anticipated, the lawyer coach can take over on behalf of the client. The transition is usually unproblematic since the lawyer is already familiar with the case.
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