LLLT Program, Non-Lawyers Are Providing Legal Services In Washington

By Nethani Palmani | Mar 31, 2017 12:26 PM EDT

(Photo : Ramin Talaie / Getty Images) Washington’s first LLLT class took the licensing exam two years ago. All of those LLLTs are licensed in family law, as Washington plans to expand the training to other practice areas.

A new study discovered that limited license legal technicians (LLLT) in Washington are helping clients with lower-level legal tasks without the supervision of a lawyer. The LLLT program permits non-lawyers with LLLT credentials to help those who can't afford a lawyer, while staying within their limits as practitioners. 

The study is conducted by the American Bar Foundation and the National Center for State Courts with support from the Public Welfare Foundation, according to ABA Journal. In the LLLT program, clients will be helped to fill out forms and legal procedures will be explained to them.

However, they may not represent their clients in court or in negotiations with opposing parties. The LLLTs take paralegal courses, 15 credits of practice area education, work for nearly 3,000 hours under a lawyer's supervision, and sit for exams - which is appropriate and adequate for the LLLT program, the study stated.

The study also found that LLLT program is also effective at providing inexpensive legal help to people of modest means, which is the chief reasons for the program's existence. While only a few LLLTs were practicing as solos at the time, others combined LLLT work with paralegal work or were full-time at a law firm, Rocket News said.

However, one of the drawbacks of the LLLT program is the limits on LLLTs' powers didn't necessarily fall between typical family law tasks, and that would require the clients represent themselves in a certain context, or even hire a lawyer for some. The regulatory costs of the LLLT program also exceeded the fees collected in a huge amount, requiring a large subsidy from the Washington State Bar Association.

Meanwhile, the study suggested that the LLLT program should be replicated in other states to improve access to justice. Washington is the only state offering this kind of program at the present time, although Utah is working on a similar program for professionals called Paralegal Practitioners.

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