Washington State Experiments With “Legal Technicians”

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Earlier this year, the Washington state Supreme Court became the first state to begin licensing non-lawyers to give legal advice, reports KOMO News.

Under the “limited license legal technician” program, experienced paralegals who take additional courses, — right now it’s just family law but more practice areas will be expanded in the future — and who pass exams can become certified to practice. To meet the requirements, the legal technician must have at least an Associates degree, complete 3,000 hours of work as a paralegal, 45 hours of core curriculum through an ABA-approved legal program, and a family law course offered through the University of Washington Law School.

What can Legal Technicians help clients do? According to the guidelines, they can:

  • Advise clients in the area of family law.
  • Obtain relevant facts from clients.
  • Inform clients about possible implications of the law as applied to their cases.
  • Advise clients on how best to manage their legal action for best results.
  • Prepare clients to represent themselves in court proceedings.
  • Perform legal research to answer clients’ legal questions.
  • Draft legal documents to be filed with the court.

Legal Technicians however are limited in their representations. They cannot represent clients in court, nor negotiate on behalf of a client, and they can only prepare legal documents that have been approved by the Limited License Legal Technician Board.

The Washington State Supreme Court appointed a 13-member Limited License Legal Technician Board to develop and administer the license program with administrative support from the Washington State Bar Association.

Other states are considering similar limited license legal technician programs.