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Abstract 96/97-09

Issues and Conclusions

Is it unethical for a lawyer to explain to a client how to proceed pro se with a matter in either traffic court or small claims court? [This informal opinion specifically stated that it did not address the issue of the ethical propriety of an attorney ghostwriting documents for the client to use pro se.]

A lawyer may advise a client how to proceed with a matter in traffic or small claims court and what arguments might best be made to advance the client's cause, except that the lawyer may not advise the client to engage in any conduct that would be improper for the lawyer.

Under Colorado Rule 1.2(c), a lawyer may limit the objectives of representation provided that the client is informed of and consents to such limits. Thus, there is nothing unethical in a lawyer who has the requisite expertise limiting the scope of representation to advising a client about traffic or small claims matters and how to proceed with those cases pro se. Colorado Rule 5.5 and Comments. Such advice may even be beneficial to the tribunal by allowing the hearing to proceed more efficiently because the client understands the procedures in advance. Of course, just as a lawyer under the Colorado Rules is prohibited from engaging in certain conduct, a lawyer is prohibited from encouraging or advising a client with respect to conduct that would be improper conduct if engaged in by the attorney.