California Limited License Update

Melanee Cottrill, Paralegal at Civitas, provided this update the task force tasked with investigating implementation of a LLLT program in California through the NFPA LinkedIn discussion board:

There was a thread on this a while ago, but I can’t find it now it’s too old. As some of you know, the CA bar formed a working group to look at doing a limited license program, inspired by WA state. The working group passed a resolution supporting the general concept and asking to be directed to develop a program. Rather than direct the working group to develop a program, the RAD committee (responsible for the working group) instead ordered some studies on access to justice and other things related to the need for a limited license. I think we all know the easiest way to kill something is to order studies on it…I’ve been in touch with bar staff but it seems to be going nowhere fast. Disappointing to say the least.

But Lisa Vessels, RP, CP, FRP, was more optimistic in her comment:

Actually, this is exactly what the WA state committee did first as well. It was (in my opinion) the most compelling piece of the reasoning of why the WA Supreme Court ordered the creation of the WA LLLT program. It also became the cornerstone of how they approached which practice area would be tackled first, etc.

Also, you can subscribe to the page where they post the agendas for the committee, and get updates when they are posted.

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One Comment

  • Clifford Smith says:

    The State Bar of California has studied the issue of legal technicians numerous times and have consistently rejected the idea. In the 1990s, it was proposed that non-lawyers be authorized by the California Supreme Court to deliver legal services in several major areas, which was quickly dismissed. Instead, the concept of legal technicians morphed into a hybrid category now known as, legal document assistants (LDAs).

    Given the State Bar’s previous position on the issue, there is little likelihood they will do a 180 degree on legal technicians anytime soon.

    Also, the initial argument advanced by the California bar members, prior to paralegal regulation, was that paralegals offering document preparation services to the public had no formal legal training, thus they were harming the public. Well, that has changed and paralegals and LDAS now have training under BPC §§ 6450 and 6400. Therefore, there is no reason to create another layer of regulation for LTTTs, when paralegals and LDAs could handle it.

    With this existing trained workforce, agreements could be entered into with the State Bar defining what limited areas paralegals and LDAs could work in, while also setting caps on what they would charge for each limited service. It would avoid regulation and complaints could be handled by the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

    What it boils down to is a working class person who earns a minimum wage simply cannot afford a LLLT charging $50 to $100 per hour, much less a lawyer charging significantly more. On the other hand, a paralegal or LDA should be able to meet the market demands of the working class and poor, since most working paralegals earn less than $50 per hour. Thus, $25 dollars per hour is certainly doable, or better yet, using a sliding scale.

    Limited legal services involving routine legal matters does not require a new layer of regulation and bureacracy. It’s a bad idea, especially when there is an existing trained paralegal and LDA workforce that could handle it.

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