Archive for June, 2015

LLLTs in Minnesota?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Lawyerist.com has a good article about a recent report from a Minnesota Bar Task Force. It reports:

Two years ago, the Minnesota State Bar Association launched two task forces to study the future of law practice and legal education. Those reports will be made public at the MSBA Annual Convention next Friday, but Lawyerist obtained copies ahead of schedule. Here are the highlights.

Limited License Legal Technicians

In its report (pdf), the MSBA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education says the MSBA should consider establishing a limited-license legal technician (LLLT) certification in Minnesota.

The Lawyeris.com article contains a link to a .pdf of the report and the substance of that recommendation from the Executive Summary portion of the report:

In order to identify a less costly path to a career in legal services and address unmet needs for specific types of legal services, the MSBA should establish a separate task force focused on studying the viability of certifying Limited License Legal Technicians (“LLLT”) with authority to provide supervised legal services in defined practice areas. This task force should consist of representatives from the state court administrative office, civil legal services and pro bono programs, private practices from diverse practice settings throughout the state, potential clients, and institutions of higher education (including, but not limited to law schools). The task force should prepare a recommendation to the MSBA Assembly on the question whether to submit a petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court to establish an LLLT practitioner rule by June 2016.

Tale of Two Former Paralegals

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

For the last couple of days, my news feed has featured two artifices with “former paralegal” in the headline. The first say, “A former paralegal welcomes children into Heaven’s House.” The second is entitled, “Former paralegal who stole nearly $600,000 get 20 years in prison.” The point here is none too subtle. I’d prefer that most paralegals become “former” only by retiring after a long career of being a fantastic paralegal. But, in the end, everyone – regardless of their chosen career – has to decide what kind of person they want to be. Fortunately, by far most of current paralegals are more like the first former paralegal than the second former paralegal. The best that can be said of the second is that she is a former paralegal. Perhaps a good way to decide on a day-to-day basis what we should do and how we should do it, is to ask ourselves whether we want to be remembered as the first former paralegal is remembered or the second.

Colorado LLLTs?

Monday, June 15th, 2015

I’m passing on a story from Law Week Colorado entitled “Colorado Considering Legal Technician Licensing.” Normally I try to summarize or excerpt but in this case it seems best to just print re-post the whole article and hope I don’t get a “take down” missive!

LAW WEEK COLORADO

Posted on June 8, 2015.
By Tony Flesor

Colorado is exploring the option of opening up the legal profession with a limited license legal technician program.
The license would create a nurse practitioner-type position for the legal field. With demand for full legal services in decline and do-it-yourself online options such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer providing basic services to those who can’t afford a lawyer becoming more common, the LLLT program, if adopted in Colorado, could connect more people with an actual human service provider and employ more people in the legal field with a lower investment than a law school legal license. Despite the positive expectations for the program, though, there are some concerns about the quality of service an LLLT could provide.
A subcommittee of the Colorado Supreme Court Advisory Committee led by Alec Rothrock, a shareholder at Burns Figa & Will whose practice is focused on the law of practicing law, is looking into the possibility of adopting the plan for the license from Washington, the only state that currently offers it.
In Washington, anyone with an associate’s degree can get an LLLT license, which allows them to offer legal services, such as helping family law clients file restraining orders or divorce documents, drafting parenting plans or custody documents and assisting clients with the court documents and procedures involved in the court system. Currently, Washington’s LLLTs may only practice in family law, a popular area for self-representation. License holders can open their own businesses as well, allowing them to work independently of law firms.

http://www.lawweekonline.com/2015/06/colorado-considering-legal-technician-licensing/

I’m not sure the characterization of Washington’s program is completely accurate. It is my understanding that the Washington program is open to people who have a paralegal undergraduate education, not just an associate’s degree in any subject.

Seven Pass Washington’s First LLLT Exam

Monday, June 8th, 2015

According to Robert Abrogi’s website, “LawSites” fifteen candidates completed the paperwork to become LLLTs, nine took the exam, and seven passed. Here are the seven:
Leisa Bulick, White Salmon, WA.
Christine Carpenter, Auburn, WA.
Michelle Cummings, Auburn, WA.
Kimberly Lancaster, Shoreline, WA.
Melodie Nicholson, Auburn, WA.
Priscilla Selden, Entiat, WA.
Angela Wright, Granite Falls, WA.

Ambrogi notes the candidates must still complete additional steps, including providing proof that (1) they have the required 3,000 hours of supervised experience (2) they have insurance and (3) have set up trust account reporting. They also must pay a licensing fee and take an oath administered by the court.

I am hopeful that this is just the first step in the effort to bridge the access to justice gap. We won’t know if the program will actually accomplish that goal until we see it in operation for a while, but it is certainly worth the try!