New Legal Services Coming to Family Law in Washington
In 2012, the Washington Supreme Court adopted APR 28, the Limited Practice Rule for Limited License Legal Technicians, an order intended to provide expanded access to justice for the citizens of Washington State. This rule authorizes qualified non-lawyers to engage in activities that fall within the definition of the “practice of law.”
This rule will go into effect in 2015, specifically in the practice of Family Law. As of February 2015, Washington is the only state in the nation to have passed an LLLT system.
Let’s answer some questions about the new Limited Practice Rule for LLLTs:
What does this mean and why is it a big deal?
The subject of LLLTs has been a controversial one within the legal profession for some time because, until now, only licensed lawyers have been permitted to engage in the practice of law. However, the fact remains that the cost of hiring an attorney is often prohibitive for many people, preventing them from getting the legal representation they need or pushing them toward potentially risky DIY legal services. Allowing Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLTs) to provide legal support at a lower cost than an attorney’s fees will provide a middle-ground option when dealing with certain legal matters.
What services may LLLTs provide to clients?
Unlike paralegals, LLLTs are authorized to interview and advise clients on facts and procedures, investigate cases, explain forms to clients, and prepare and file basic legal documents. LLLTs may currently only perform services in a family law matter.
The full Scope of Practice authorized by the limited practice rule can be found here (section F): https://www.courts.wa.gov/court_rules/?fa=court_rules.display&group=ga&set=APR&ruleid=gaapr28
What services are LLLTs NOT permitted to perform?
LLLTs may not represent a client in court or formal dispute resolution proceedings. They are not permitted to negotiate for the client. Communication with another person about the client’s position or with the client about the position of another party is also prohibited.
Who can become an LLLT?
To become an LLLT, an individual has to complete the required educational requirements, after which he/she must take and pass an exam administered by the Washington State Bar Association. The LLLT also has to complete 3000 hours of work supervised by an attorney.
Until December 31, 2016, some interested in becoming a LLLT can apply for a waiver to forego the educational requirements if they are a certified paralegal and have 10+ years of experience in the legal industry, which was supervised by a lawyer.
When will LLLT services be available?
The Washington State Bar Association plans to begin administering the LLLT licensing exam to applicants in March 2015. The first LLLTs will be licensed sometime in the spring of 2015.