Limited Representation (Unbundled Legal Services)

Read this in: Spanish / Español
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid


What is limited representation?

  • Sometimes called:
    • Limited scope representation
    • Unbundled service
    • Discreet legal representation
  • It is when an attorney helps you with part of your case, but not all of the case.
    • You and the attorney talk about all of the parts of your case.
    • The attorney helps you with one or more of the parts of the case.
    • You do the rest of the parts by yourself.

What are the parts of the case I will talk about with the attorney?

  • You and the attorney will look at these parts of the case. You and the attorney will decide what parts of the case the attorney will handle for you.
    • Finding information or facts
    • Getting information from the other side in your case, banks, agencies or other businesses
    • Filling out forms
    • Filing papers with the court
    • Going to court
    • Talking to the other side in your case
  • You and the attorney will agree on what part of the case you will handle and what part the attorney will handle.

What kinds of cases can use limited representation?

  • Any non-criminal case might be appropriate for limited representation.

How can I choose limited representation?

  • Ask the attorney if they offer limited representation.
  • Talk about the parts of your case and what you want the attorney to do
  • Talk to the attorney about the cost of having the attorney do those parts
  • Decide if you can do the other parts by yourself
  • Ask the attorney if they will help you more if you decide you cannot do it by yourself
  • Talk about how much the attorney will charge for more help

Will the court let me represent myself, or have help with only some parts of my case?

  • You may represent yourself, but it may not be the best thing for you in your case.
  • Iowa law lets attorneys help with some parts of the case.
  • The attorney tells the court that the representation is limited.
  • When the attorney is done with their part of your case, they tell the court that part is done.

Why do people choose limited representation?

  • If a person has limited income or resources, they can still get some help or advice from an attorney.
  • If a person does some of the work, it saves the attorney time.
  • Attorneys charge for the time they work on a case.
  • If the attorney spends less time on a case, the total fees are less.
  • A person has more control of their own case when they do some of the work.
  • If the person tries to do some of the work but finds that the case is too difficult, they can ask the attorney to do more or all of the work.
  • If the person goes back to the same attorney for more help, the attorney will already know about the case.

Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans. 

To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:

  • Call 800-532-1275. 
  • Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161.
  • Apply online at


If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website   A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.


*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice

Last Review and Update: Aug 30, 2022
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