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I want representation for my divorce, but can’t afford a huge retainer!


The main issue with the standard divorce fee arrangement with an attorney is that the attorney has to factor into the retainer the possibility that the case is going to require extensive time and work.

How much time and work an attorney has to put into the case falls anywhere on a big spectrum. Cases can be resolved quickly if the issues are relatively straightforward and the parties are reasonable. However, more complex cases and/or cases in which either one or both of the parties or attorneys are unreasonable or difficult, can take a long time and multiple hearings to finalize.

Therefore, in your traditional divorce representation arrangement, the attorney typically requires a large enough deposit to ensure there’s money in the trust account to take the attorney through a decent portion of the case. If the case requires significant work beyond the amount in retainer, the attorney is left either working for free, or having to request permission of the court to withdraw from the case.

But what if you can’t come up with that large amount for a deposit but still need representation?

That’s where Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) comes in. LAR allows clients and attorneys to contract for more limited portions of the case instead of an all or nothing arrangement.

The client can hire the attorney for specific tasks and events. If it goes well, and the client is happy with the service, the client can hire the attorney for the next phase.

The client benefits by avoiding a huge up-front financial commitment to the law firm without first having experienced the work and client service provided by the firm. And the law firm benefits from having their obligation to the client limited in return for the lower retainer amount.

Overall, limited assistance representation seems to make sense for both sides of the agreement. It’s an option worth exploring if you don’t have significant money for a large retainer, or if you want to proceed with caution and commit to only a more limited arrangement to test whether the law firm is a good fit for you.

If you have any questions about limited assistance representation or divorce generally, feel free to contact us.

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