How to Scope a Legal Matter: A 7-Step Guide

Learn how to scope a legal matter in this comprehensive guide that outlines the seven essential steps you need to take.

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Scoping a legal matter is an important—and often overlooked—part of the attorney-client relationship. By taking the time to scope a legal matter, attorneys can ensure that they clearly understand the client’s goals and objectives and the work that needs to be done to achieve those goals. Additionally, scoping a legal matter can help attorneys avoid scope creep, leading to billing disputes and unhappy clients. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through the seven steps that should be taken to scope a legal matter properly. By following these steps, you’ll be able to provide your clients with the high-quality legal services they deserve. 

1. Schedule an Initial Consultation with the Client

The first step in scoping a legal matter is to schedule an initial consultation with the client. During this consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the client’s goals and objectives for their case. You’ll also be able to ask any questions that you may have about the facts of the case. 

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2. Review Relevant Documents

Once you’ve had a chance to meet with the client and ask them questions about their case, it’s time to review any relevant documents. This might include contracts, emails, letters, or other types of correspondence. By reviewing these documents, you’ll better understand the facts of the case and what your client hopes to achieve. 

3. Research Relevant Laws and Regulations

After reviewing all the relevant documents, it’s time to start researching applicable laws and regulations. This research will help you determine your client’s rights and options available to them under the law. 

4. Identify Any Potential Issues That Need to Be Resolved

Once you’ve completed your research, it’s time to identify any potential issues that need to be resolved for your client to achieve their objectives. For example, suppose your client is hoping to obtain a divorce. In that case, you’ll need to identify any outstanding issues that need to be resolved before the divorce can be finalized (e.g., child custody, property division, etc.). 

5. Develop a Game Plan for Resolving Those Issues

Now that you’ve identified all of the issues that need to be resolved, it’s time to develop a game plan for resolving those issues. This game plan should include an outline of all the steps necessary for those issues to be resolved successfully. 

6. Create a Budget for Your Time and Expenses

Once you’ve developed your game plan, it’s time to create a budget for your time and expenses associated with resolving those issues. This budget should consider any costs associated with filing fees, expert witnesses, travel expenses, etc. 

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7 . Get a Signoff from Your Client on the Game Plan and Budget

Before proceeding with any work on the case, you’ll need to get a signoff from your client on both the game plan and budget. This will help ensure that there are no surprises down the road and that everyone is on the same page regarding what needs to be done and how much it will cost. 


Scoping a legal matter is an essential first step in handling any case – big or small! By taking some time upfront to scope out the situation, attorneys can save themselves (and their clients) valuable time and money in the long run! What other tips do YOU have for scoping a legal matter? Please share them with us in the comments below!

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