Category Archives: Non-lawyer limited practice of law

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

Arizona legal advocates program beginning in September 2020 will train non-lawyers to provide limited legal advice

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the Arizona licensed legal advocates program beginning in September 2020 which will provide training for non-lawyers to provide limited  legal advice.  A recent news release on the program by the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law is here:  https://law.arizona.edu/news/2020/02/new-licensed-legal-advocates-pilot-program

The Rogers College of Law initiated a two-year pilot project that will license a small group of non-lawyers to give limited legal advice on civil matters related to domestic violence.  The individuals will be known as licensed legal advocates and will be trained to provide legal advice on protective orders, divorce, child custody, consumer protection and housing.

Three to four lay legal advocates from Southern Arizona’s Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse are expected to start an eight-week training program at the law school in September 2020.  The individuals must have a bachelor’s degree and at least 2,000 hours of experience as a lay legal advocate.  The Arizona lay legal advocates will be permitted to provide general information about legal forms and court procedures in issues stemming from domestic violence, but are prohibited from providing legal advice.

The training will have an online curriculum and in-person classes.  The Arizona Supreme Court’s Administrative Office of the Courts is working with the Innovation for Justice Program to include a licensing examination for the course. If the pilot is made permanent, the licensed legal advocates will be required to take continuing legal education courses after completing the training.  Individuals who are required to appear in court in a matter will represent themselves; however, the licensed legal advocate will be permitted to sit at that individual’s table.

The pilot project runs until the end of 2021 and includes a research study which will review procedural fairness, whether a licensed legal advocate was able to provide the required level of legal services, and case outcomes.

The 2020-2021 pilot project results from a 2019 Arizona Supreme Court task force report on legal services delivery which recommended, inter alia, the elimination Arizona Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4 (based on Rule 5.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct) which restricts lawyer partnerships with nonlawyers in law firms.  An American Bar Association Task Force Report in October 2019 also recommended elimination of the Model Rule

The October 2019 American Bar Association Task Force on the Delivery of Legal Services Report is here:   https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/council_reports_and_resolutions/november2019/arizona-supreme-court-task-force-on-delivery-of-legal-services-final-report-2019-october.pdf

The Arizona Supreme Court is expected to vote on the recommendation to eliminate Arizona Bar Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4 in August 2020.

The Arizona Supreme Court authorized a pilot project creating a legal document preparer program to assist people in domestic violence matters.  As I previously reported, the Utah Supreme Court voted in August 2019 to pursue a regulatory reform working group’s recommendations, which included either eliminating or relaxing Utah’s Rule 5.4 and the Ethics Alert blog on that vote and working group report is here:  https://jcorsmeier.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/utah-supreme-court-approves-pilot-program-to-permit-non-traditional-legal-services-including-non-lawyer-firm-ownership/

The Utah working group report and the Arizona Supreme Court task force report are both referenced in the report accompanying proposed American Bar Association Resolution 115, which is scheduled to be considered and potentially approved by the ABA House of Delegates on Feb. 17, 2020 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas. The resolution requests that the ABA to encourage jurisdictions to consider regulatory innovation and examine existing regulations, including those related to the unauthorized practice of law.

Bottom line:  This Arizona non-lawyer “legal advocate” pilot program permitting non-lawyers to give limited legal advice is a continuation of the trend toward expanding the non-lawyer practice of law and also authorizing non-lawyers to own legal service entities.  As always, I will be following it and I will keep you advised

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 34683

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 2018 Utah rules permitting non-lawyer legal practice, 2019 California non-lawyer practice and ownership proposals, 2019 Utah pilot program permitting non-traditional legal services, including non-lawyer firm ownership, ABA Resolution 105 non lawyer ownership of law firms, fee sharing, Fee sharing with non-lawyer owned firms, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Non lawyer compensation, 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 of law, Non-lawyer practicing law, Uncategorized

California Bar examines proposal that non-lawyers be permitted to provide legal advice and have a financial interest in law firms

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent proposals of a State Bar of California task force which would, inter alia, permit legal technicians to offer legal advice and also permit non-lawyers to have a financial interest in law firms.  The proposals were approved by the State Bar Board of Trustees on July 11, 2019.

The proposals were developed by the California Bar’s Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services.  The task force’s proposals would make sweeping changes by modifying the restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law and ethics rules that prohibit fee sharing with nonlawyers and would also permit legal technicians to provide legal advice and practice law.  The California Bar press release announcing the proposals is here: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/About-Us/News-Events/News-Releases/board-approves-public-comment-on-tech-task-forces-regulatory-reform-options-under-consideration.  The California Bar agenda item with the proposals is here:  http://board.calbar.ca.gov/docs/agendaItem/Public/agendaitem1000024450.pdf

The proposals would permit non-lawyers to provide certain specified legal advice and services, with the appropriate regulation, and permit entities that provide legal or law-related services to be made up of lawyers, nonlawyers or a combination of the two. The regulations would differ depending upon the type of entity, and also permit lawyers to be part of a law firm in which a nonlawyer holds a financial interest.

The task force proposed two alternatives.  The first would include provisions permitting non-lawyers to provide services that assist the lawyers or law firm in providing legal services, and state that the nonlawyers have no power to direct or control the professional judgment of the lawyers. The other would permit lawyers to share fees with non-lawyers as long as the client provides written consent.

The proposals also would also permit state-approved businesses to use legal technology to deliver legal services.  Regulatory standards governing the provider and the technology would be established and client communications with such entities would be covered by attorney-client privilege/confidentiality.

According to the California Bar press release:  “The State Bar Board of Trustees on July 11 authorized a 60-day public comment period for a sweeping set of regulatory reform options for improving access to legal services, developed by the Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS).”

“Beginning next week, the State Bar will seek written comment from consumers, legal service providers, technology experts, and lawyers as vital input for evaluating the options. The Task Force also plans to hold a public hearing to receive oral testimony. The hearing, to take place on August 10, 2019, at the State Bar’s San Francisco office, is timed to coincide with this year’s annual meeting of the American Bar Association.”

Bottom line:  These California Bar proposals have a long way to go before being potentially implemented; however, if they are eventually implemented, California will be another one of the few states which would permit legal technicians to offer legal advice and the only jurisdiction (other than the District of Columbia) to permit nonlawyers to hold a financial interest in law firms.  Stay tuned…

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.

29605 U.S. Highway 19 N. Suite 150

Clearwater, Florida 33761

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 California non-lawyer practice and ownership proposals, Fee sharing with non-lawyer owned firms, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Lawyer ethics, Lawyer Ethics and Professionalism, lawyer fee splitting, Non lawyer compensation, Non-lawyer limited practice of law, Non-lawyer ownership, Non-lawyer practice of law, Non-lawyer practicing law, Uncategorized

First Limited Licensed Paralegal Practitioners expected to be licensed to practice limited law in Utah in 2019

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the implementation of the limited license practitioners (LLP) program in Utah, which is the second such program in the United States.  The first non-lawyer licensing program was Washington’s Limited Licensed Legal Technician (LLLT) Program, which has been in place since 2015.

In 2015, the Utah Supreme Court considered a proposal to permit limited licensed paralegal practitioners (LPPs) to provide legal advice and assist clients in limited matters; however, those paralegals would not be permitted to appear in court.  The new LPPs would assist clients in completing legal forms, completing settlement agreements and representing them in mediated negotiations.

The Utah Supreme Court Task Force to Examine Limited Legal Licensing was appointed to consider rules permitting non-lawyers to provide help in specified areas of family law, eviction and debt collection.  The task force’s report recommended that LPPs have a law degree or an associate’s degree with a paralegal certificate, paralegal certification, paralegal experience and additional coursework in their practice area. The Utah State Bar would supervise the licensing and discipline.

The Utah Supreme Court Task Force’s November 18, 2015 Report and Recommendation is here: http://www.utcourts.gov/committees/limited_legal/Supreme%20Court%20Task%20Force%20to%20Examine%20Limited%20Legal%20Licensing.pdf.

The new LLP Rules were approved by the Utah Supreme Court and will take effect November 1, 2018.  The first LLPs in Utah are expected to be licensed in 2019, which will make it the second state to license non-lawyers to practice law and will allow LLPs practice without a lawyer’s supervision in three areas.

Those legal areas include:  matters involving temporary separation, divorce, parentage, cohabitant abuse, civil stalking, custody and support, and name change, matters involving forcible entry and detainer, and debt collection matters in which the dollar amount in issue does not exceed the statutory limit for small claims cases.  LLPs will not be permitted to appear in court on behalf of a client.

LPPs will be permitted to help clients choose, complete, file, and complete service of legal forms; review and explain court orders or another party’s documents; advocate for a client in a mediation; and complete settlement agreements after a negotiation.  Classes for licensed paralegal practitioners will be taught at Utah Valley University and the first licensing examinations are expected to be held in Spring 2019.

Bottom line:  Utah is the second state to permit limited licensed legal practice in the United States.  Washington has had a Limited Licensed Legal Technician (LLLT) Program in place since 2015 and California and Oregon are thinking about it:  See:  http://www.calbar.ca.gov/About-Us/Who-We-Are/Board-of-Trustees/Board-Task-Force/Limited-License-Working-Group and http://bog11.homestead.com/LegalTechTF/Jan2015/Report_22Jan2015.pdf

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this Ethics Alert 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.

29605 U.S. Highway 19, N., Suite 150

Clearwater, Florida 33761

Office (727) 799-1688

Fax     (727) 799-1670

jcorsmeier@jac-law.com

www.jac-law.com

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Filed under 2018 Utah rules permitting non-lawyer legal practice, joe corsmeier, Joseph Corsmeier, Non lawyer compensation, Non-lawyer limited practice of law, Non-lawyer practicing law