Category Archives: Limited Practice of Law

Utah Supreme Court approves Rocket Lawyer and other entities to participate in regulatory “sandbox”

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss recent approval of Rocket lawyer and other entities to participate in Utah’s pilot regulatory “sandbox program. 

On September 8, 2020, Rocket Lawyer announced that it was one of the first entities approved by the Utah Supreme Court to participate in the regulatory “sandbox” program permitting, inter alia, nontraditional legal service providers.  Rocket Lawyer’s website is here:  https://www.rocketlawyer.com/ 

As I previously blogged here: https://jcorsmeier.wordpress.com/2020/08/18/utah-supreme-court-authorizes-pilot-program-which-inter-alia-permits-non-lawyers-to-own-law-firms-and-share-fees-with-lawyers/, the Utah Supreme Court approved the regulatory “sandbox” pilot program as the primary part of a regulatory reform package which was designed to allow the testing of innovative approaches to serving legal consumers will ultimately improve the public’s access to justice.  The Court’s August 14, 2020 Standing Order is here: http://www.utcourts.gov/utc/rules-approved/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2020/08/FINAL-Utah-Supreme-Court-Standing-Order-No.-15.pdf   

A total of five entities were approved for participation in the sandbox program.  The other approved applicants were:

  1. LawHQ: A Salt Lake City law firm which plans to offer equity ownership to certain software developers in the firm and a software application called CallerHQ, which is designed to allow consumers to report spam telephone calls, text messages and voicemails. Consumers who sign up may then be included in a mass tort litigation brought by LawHQ against the spammers.
  1. 1Law: An entity which plans to provide no-cost and low-cost legal services to assist clients in completing court documents and also offer related legal advice using chatbots, instant messaging, automated interviews, nonlawyer staff and technology-assisted lawyers. 1Law plans to have more than 50% nonlawyer ownership.
  1. LawPal: An entity which plans to provide a TurboTax-like technology platform to generate legal documents in contested and uncontested divorce and custody cases, eviction cases and debt-related property seizure cases. It expects to feature 50% nonlawyer ownership.
  1. Blue Bee Bankruptcy Law: The sole owner of this law firm states that he will give his paralegal employee a 10% ownership interest in the firm as an incentive to remain with the firm.

The Utah Supreme Court’s Order creating the pilot sandbox program states that participants must demonstrate that the activities and services “do not cause levels of consumer harm above threshold levels established by” the Court’s innovation office.  Successful sandbox participants may also ultimately receive approval to exit the sandbox program and continue practicing the services after the pilot program ends.

After the two-year pilot program period, which began on August 14, 2020, is over, the Utah Supreme Court will evaluate whether the program should continue “based on a review of data collected from those entities and individuals participating in the program.”  If not approved to continue, the program will sunset after the 2 year period.  

As I previously blogged, the Arizona Supreme Court recently approved rule revisions which will permit alternative legal business structures.  The Arizona rule revisions become effective January 1, 2020 and there are no provisions for a regulatory “sandbox program”.  My blog is here:  https://jcorsmeier.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/arizona-becomes-first-u-s-state-to-authorize-non-lawyer-ownership-of-law-firms-and-fee-sharing/

Bottom line:  As I have said before, if this trend continues, this could become the wave of the future in other states and jurisdictions. 

Stay safe and healthy and be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

Joseph Corsmeier about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

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Filed under 2019 Utah pilot program permitting non-traditional legal services, including non-lawyer firm ownership, 2020 Arizona authorization of non-lawyer practice, fee sharing and limited practice, 2020 Utah Supreme Court Order approving sandbox and non- lawyer practice and ownership, Arizona Supreme Court authorization of non-lawyer ownership of law firms, sharing fees, and practice of law, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, lawyer fee splitting, Limited Practice of Law, Non-lawyer limited practice, Non-lawyer limited practice of law, Non-lawyer ownership, Non-lawyer ownership of law firms, non-lawyer ownership of law firms and fee splitting, Non-lawyer practice, Non-lawyer practice of law, Non-lawyer practicing law, Uncategorized, Utah approval of Rocket Matter as provider, Utah Supreme Court regulatory sandbox

Washington Supreme Court votes to eliminate the non-lawyer limited license technician (LLLT) program

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent Washington Supreme Court vote to eliminate the non-lawyer limited license legal technician (LLLT) program.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Debra L. Stephens, sent a letter on June 5, 2020 to the Washington State Bar Association President and Acting Executive Director, and the Chair of the LLLT Board announcing the decision.

The Washington Supreme Court had approved the creation of this first legal license for nonlawyers in the United States in 2015 and several other states have now implemented, or have considered implementing, similar programs.  Justice Stephens and Justice Barbara A. Madsen, who was the chief justice when the court approved the LLLT program in 2012, dissented from the vote.

The June 5 letter states: “The program was an innovative attempt to increase access to legal services,” Stephens wrote in her letter. “However, after careful consideration of the overall costs of sustaining the program and the small number of interested individuals, a majority of the court determined that the LLLT program is not an effective way to meet these needs and voted to sunset the program.”

The first LLLTs were licensed in 2015; however, there are less than 40 active technicians.  The Washington State Bar also reported in May 2020 that the direct and indirect costs for administering the licensing program had exceeded revenues by nearly $1.4 million.  The Board of the State Bar also asked the Court in May 2020 to consider the possible sunsetting of the program, and the Court’s order approving the LLLT program had stated an expectation it would be self-sustaining.

A business plan submitted to the Court by the LLLT Board indicated the program could potentially generate enough revenue to cover the Bar’s direct expenses for administering the program by 2022 and cover all costs by 2029.  That plan was contingent on the Court approving new practice areas to include in the program (which was contemplated when the program was created) and reducing some of the requirements to become a LLLT. The Chief Justice’s letter stated that the LLLT board’s proposed practice areas expansion and rules revisions were not approved by the Court.

In a written dissent, Justice Madsen called the financial criticism of the LLLT program “hollow” and said that the Court’s decision will result in the “elimination of an independent legal license.”  She also stated that this had occurred without “a single meeting, without question or comment from LLLT license holders, legal practitioners, or the public at large,” “What took over a decade of toil to create, this court erased in an afternoon.”  “In no other professional area would a regulated license be so summarily erased with so little thought given to those who will be most affected.”

The Chief Justice’s June 5 letter states that:

Current legal technicians in good standing may continue to be licensed and may continue to provide services. Individuals already in the pipeline as of June 4, 2020, who can complete all the requirements to be licensed as a LLLT by July 31, 2021, may do so. No new LLLTs will be admitted after that date.

Bottom line:  This decision by the Washington Supreme Court is somewhat surprising, particularly since other states have now implemented (or are considering implementation of) non-lawyer limited practice programs, including Florida.  It appears that the lack of interest (only 40 participants) and the $1.4 million deficit were the primary reasons for the Court’s decision to eliminate the program.

Stay safe and healthy and be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

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Filed under Limited Practice of Law, Non-lawyer limited practice, Non-lawyer limited practice of law, Non-lawyer practice, Uncategorized, Washington Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) program, Washington state LLLT program sunset and elimination of program

Advanced Registered Paralegal program allowing limited practice sent to Florida Bar Rules Committee for review

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will update the status of the Advanced Florida Registered Paralegal designation as part of the Florida Registered Paralegal Program in Chapter 20, the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

As I previously blogged here: https://jcorsmeier.wordpress.com/2020/01/16/florida-supreme-court-access-to-justice-commission-approves-advanced-registered-paralegal-program-which-would-permit-the-limited-practice-of-law/, the Florida Supreme Court Access Commission voted to approve the proposal to create the Advanced Florida Registered Paralegal designation.

The proposal was sent to the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors (BOG) for review and Bar President John Stewart announced at the BOG’s January 31, 2020 meeting that he had referred the proposed program to the Florida Bar’s Rules Committee to consider objections that were made by the Bar’s Family Law, Real Property, Probate and Trust Law, Elder, and Public Interest Law sections.

Under the proposed program, Advanced Registered Paralegals would be required to obtain additional education and work experience than is required to become a Florida Registered Paralegal and would be required to be aware of “lawyer’s protocols” in performing authorized services.  The program would also permit Advanced Registered Paralegals to engage in the limited practice of law under a lawyer’s supervision in family law, landlord tenant law, guardianship law, wills, advance directives, and debt collection defense.

The proposal also provides a licensing and disciplinary process, lists that duties that may not require “independent professional legal judgment,” and states that the Advanced Registered Paralegals must be supervised by a lawyer who “maintains a direct relationship with the client and maintains control of all client matters.”

Bottom line:  As I previously indicated, this is an early proposal for a Florida limited licensing and practice of law program for paralegals.  Other states, including Utah, Washington, Oregon, and California already have limited licensing programs in place.  The proposed program will now be reviewed by the Florida Bar’s Rules Committee.

I will keep you advised and be careful out there.

As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

 

Please note:  My office has moved and the new office address is 2999 Alt. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683.  All other contact information remains the same.

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

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Filed under Florida Advanced Registered Paralegal program 2020, Florida Advanced Registered Paralegal program- limited practice of law, Florida Supreme Court, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Limited Practice of Law, Non-lawyer limited practice of law, Non-lawyer practice of law, Uncategorized

Florida Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission approves “Advanced Registered Paralegal” program which would permit the limited practice of law

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent Florida Supreme Court Commission on Access to Civil Justice’s approval of a proposal to create an “Advanced Florida Registered Paralegal” designation as part of the Florida Registered Paralegal Program in Chapter 20, the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

The Access Commission voted to approve the proposal to create the Advanced Florida Registered Paralegal designation and program and forwarded the proposal to the commission’s Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee’s chair forwarded the proposal informally to the Florida Bar Board of Governors (BOG) for review and input and it has been placed on the agenda of the BOG’s January 31, 2019 meeting.

Under the proposal, Advanced Registered Paralegals would be required to have additional education and work experience than is required to become a Florida Registered Paralegal.  Advanced Registered Paralegals would also be required to be aware of “lawyer’s protocols” in performing authorized services.

Importantly, the proposal would also permit Advanced Registered Paralegals to engage in the limited practice of law under a lawyer’s supervision in family law, landlord tenant law, guardianship law, wills, advance directives, and debt collection defense.

The proposed rule revisions also set forth a licensing and disciplinary process, lists that duties that may not require “independent professional legal judgment,” and states that the Advanced Registered Paralegals must be supervised by a lawyer who “maintains a direct relationship with the client and maintains control of all client matters.”

Bottom line:  This is an early proposal for a Florida limited licensing and practice of law program for paralegals.  Various other states, including Utah, Washington, Oregon, and California already have limited licensing programs in place.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

Please note:  My office has moved and the new office address is 2999 Alt. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683.  All other contact information remains the same.

Joseph Corsmeier

about.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

 

1 Comment

Filed under Florida Advanced Registered Paralegal program 2020, Florida Advanced Registered Paralegal program- limited practice of law, Florida Bar, Florida Supreme Court, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Limited Practice of Law, Uncategorized