In some Arizona cases, individuals may want to consult with a licensed lawyer while they are representing themselves. The State Bar of Arizona has released an ethics opinion addressing the scope of representation under such an arrangement, including the requirements of disclosure and confidentiality and the possibility of coaching the client.
The opinion cites Arizona Ethics Rule 1.2, which states that a lawyer can limit the scope of his or her representation if the client gives informed consent. The limitations must also be reasonable given the circumstances of the case. A lawyer engaged in such an agreement does not have an affirmative duty to disclose the representation to opposing counsel but must make only true statements to opposing counsel in accordance with Ethics Rule 4.1(a).
If the client authorizes the lawyer to disclose the arrangement, opposing counsel may then be restricted by Ethics Rule 4.2 from contacting the client directly. The parties may establish a situation where opposing counsel may contact the client directly on certain matters and must go through the limited-representation lawyer on others, according to the wishes of the client as well as any rules or regulations that may apply.
The representation may also be limited to coaching. For example, the lawyer may help the client prepare for a court appearance, deposition, transaction or negotiation. The client may also ask that the lawyer be present during proceedings to assist or provide additional coaching as the situation develops.
Any of these arrangements may be acceptable so long as they do not violate ethical or other rules. An individual who is interested in limited representation in a divorce or other family law case may want to consult with a lawyer who has experience in those areas. A family law lawyer may be able to help develop a limited representation strategy or provide coaching in preparation for oral argument or negotiation.
Source: State Bar of Arizona, “State Bar of Arizona Ethics Opinions“, October 14, 2014