Saturday, October 11, 2014
Here come the "limited licensed legal technicians"
A new article by Professor Elizabeth Chambliss (S. Carolina) discusses the recommendations last January by the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education that state bars consider licensing non-lawyers to deliver limited legal services as a way of improving access to justice for clients who otherwise might not be able to afford a lawyer. Professor Chambliss discusses in her article programs begun by three Washington law schools to train legal paraprofessionals who will become eligible to deliver legal services in that state by 2015. She also discusses similar measures under consideration in three other states including New York and California. Here's the cite and link to SSRN - Law School Training For Licensed "Legal Technicians"? Implications For The Consumer Market. 65 S.C. L. Rev. 579 (2014) (also available here)- and the abstract is below:
In January 2014, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education released its report calling, among other things, for limited licensing and the expansion of independent paraprofessional training by law schools. In Washington State, all three law schools are collaborating with community college paralegal programs to design and deliver specialized training for “Limited License Legal Technicians” (LLLTs), who will be licensed to deliver limited family law services beginning in 2015. At least three other states, including California and New York — which together contain nearly twenty-six percent of U.S. lawyers and seventy-six law schools — are actively seeking ways to expand nonlawyer training and licensing in high-need areas such as family law, immigration, landlord–tenant, foreclosure, and consumer credit.
The involvement of ABA-approved law schools in the delivery of paraprofessional training could play a key role in the standardization of titles and training for nonlawyer practitioners — that is, the creation of paraprofessional “brands.” Such standardization could facilitate the development of a national consumer legal market by promoting quality assessment and professional mobilization, on the supply side, as well as consumer awareness of and demand for new paraprofessional roles.
This Article examines the status of the Washington LLLT initiative and its reception in other states. It argues that, while the Washington model faces strong headwinds in the form of lawyer resistance on the one hand and unregulated competition on the other, law school training for licensed legal technicians is a promising means for institutionalizing a nationally recognized, independent paraprofessional brand, which itself could promote broader consumer access to — and demand for — routine legal services.