TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
RE: Rule changes to facilitate unbundled legal services
The Supreme Court has requested that the Committee consider rule changes to facilitate unbundled legal services. The Court made this request after receiving the Report on Pro Se Litigation in North Dakota. A copy of the Court's request letter and a copy of the report is attached. Committee member Judge Michael Sturdevant was part of the group that conducted the report.
"Unbundled legal services" are specific and limited services provided by a lawyer to a client. The report suggests rule changes "to make it easier for litigants to seek legal assistance on a specific legal or procedural issue, and for attorneys to sever the relationship once a specific task is completed."
The Court submitted the report to the Joint Committee on Attorney Standards. In a letter, attached, Attorney Standards wrote that the Rules of Professional Conduct would allow provision of unbundled legal services, but that "amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure or Rules of Court. Or both, and perhaps other procedural rules may be necessary to clarify the responsibilities of lawyers in limited representation situations."
The State of Maine recently amended three of its procedural rules with the specific purpose of allowing attorneys to assist an "otherwise unrepresented litigant on a limited basis." Because Maine's rules are similar to North Dakota's, and because their rule changes served the same goal expressed by the Pro Se report, staff used the Maine changes as a model for proposed changes to North Dakota rules.
Copies of the amended Maine rules and of the notes supporting the Maine amendments are attached. Also attached are proposed amendments to N.D.R.Civ.P. 5 and 11 and to N.D.R.Ct. 11.2. The proposed amendments are intended to deal with notice, appearance, and withdrawal procedures in cases where attorneys provide limited representation.