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The Argument for & Against Non-Lawyers Assisting Clients

08 Nov 2021 4:26 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

The legal industry in the United States is primarily regulated by judges and lawyers, this makes access to legal help for average Americans enormously expensive and out of reach. The only way to increase access to justice is to expand the group of people and organizations that can provide legal help beyond JD-trained and licensed lawyers.

Millions of litigants across the country have no choice but to represent themselves in state courts even though they do not have any understanding of the law and legal procedures. Some States argue that allowing paralegals, authorized non-lawyers and organizations could help ease overburdened state courts and reduce their backlog significantly.

The use of non-JD legal assistants and non-lawyer dominated businesses is not a venture into uncharted waters. The United Kingdom has a long history of allowing a wide variety of differently trained individuals and organizations to provide legal assistance, and studies show that the practice works very well. In many cases, people are better served by a non-lawyer organization that specializes in a particular type of legal help navigating housing or bankruptcy matters, for example a solo practitioner with a general practice.

Some states are considering the recommendation to use non-lawyers to assist clients in some practice areas including Chicago, California, New York, Utah, & District of Columbia. However, The Washington Supreme Court will "sunset” the state’s Limited License Legal Technicians program that has permitted non-lawyers to perform some legal tasks within family law.

“The program was an innovative attempt to increase access to legal services,” Chief Justice Debra L. 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.”

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