Posts Tagged ‘license’

Washington State Licensing Board Moving Forward – with Paralegal Help

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

We’ve previously noted the new Washington Admission to Practice Rule 28 which creates a new legal service provider category named Limited License Legal Technician. The NFPA LinkenIn Group discussion board recently posted the following announcement:

Brenda Cothary, President of the Washington State Paralegal Association, has been appointed by the Washington State Supreme Court to serve on the Limited License Legal Technician Board.

Washington recently passed a law where certain paralegals can provide services directly to the public. Brenda will be on the inaugural board which will establish the requirements and procedures for paralegals who wish to work in this capacity. Brenda is very excited to be appointed and NFPA is proud of the work that WSPA members put into this project.

I join in congratulating Brenda and extend that congratulations to all the WSPA members who worked on moving the profession forward. Not every paralegal will or can be appointed to boards of this nature, but each can contribute to their own professional growth and the growth of the profession by actively participating in professional associations, civic affairs, and pro bono projects.

Wisconsin, UPL, and Legal Ethics

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

This post does not directly concern paralegals, but it passes muster as a follow-up of sorts to a post I did quite some time ago on Wisconsin’s attempt to regulate UPL. The Wisconsin Bar casts this as totally a matter of consumer protection, but others would argue that this is really an attempt to maintain the monopoly the bar has on providing legal service, i.e., it is a move to eliminate all competition so they can maintain high prices. What I read on the Bar Association’s website, does not deal at all with the access to justice issue. Apparently there is some demand in Wisconsin for such access, which demand is not being met my the present legal system – else there would not be so many examples of consumers seeking the help of “independent” paralegals.

At the time I stated, “I am sure that the Winconsin Bar supports a pro bono program and ethical obligation for attorneys…” I’m not quite as sure as I was after seeing this report at ABAJournal.com:

Being convicted of a felony, or even a misdemeanor, can mean the loss of a lawyer’s license to practice in many states. Plus, it is standard in some states for an attorney’s license to be suspended as soon as he or she is convicted of a serious crime.

But in Wisconsin there are 135 attorneys who still hold active licenses despite convictions for crimes such as battery, theft, fraud and repeat drunken driving, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Some had active licenses even as they served time behind bars.

Another 70 managed to avoid law license trouble by getting charges reduced or entering into deferred prosecution agreements.

It is difficult to see how the Bar Association can claim to be motivated to eliminate “independent” paralegals by a desire to protect the public if this report is accurate.

Paralegal UPL in Canada

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Licensing of paralegal does not, apparently, entirely eliminate the concern regarding UPL by paralegals, but may shift that concern to paralegals performing activities that go beyond their license as indicated by this report:

A disciplinary panel has reserved its decision to a later date whether to grant a former North Bay councillor her licence to continue practising as a paralegal.

The Law Society of Upper Canada which oversees paralegals and lawyers in Ontario held a four-day good character hearing in North Bay last month to determine if Maureen Boldt should be granted a licence.

Lawyers for the law society and for Boldt gave their closing arguments Tuesday at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.

Boldt started working as a paralegal in 1992 and has three law society convictions for the unauthorized practise of law by performing tasks that only licensed lawyers in Ontario are allowed to do.

The last conviction put her in contempt of court for ignoring an injunction to stop illegally practising law. She was sentenced to four months house arrest and lost her seat on city council when she missed too many consecutive meetings.

The law society began issuing licences to paralegals in 2008 and it has allowed Boldt to continue practising pending the outcome of the hearing.