Friday, August 10, 2018

First group of non lawyer technicians in Utah is expected to be licensed in 2019 -- UPDATED

Since 2015, there has been a lot of discussion on whether non lawyers should be allowed to provide some legal services.  Back then, Washington created a program to certify "Limited Licensed Legal Technicians" (or "LLLTs") who, after completing a course of study, would be allowed to represent clients without the supervision of a lawyer in limited circumstances.  You can read my original posts on this topic here, here, here, here, here, and here.  For many months, there was a debate as to whether this was a good idea, and whether other states would follow Washington's lead.  Some states did appear to be ready to do so, but in the end only Utah followed through.

Now comes news that new rules regulating paralegal practitioners in Utah are set to take effect Nov. 1 and that the first paralegal practitioners are expected to be licensed in 2019.  This will make Utah and Washington the only states that allow non-lawyers to practice law. The new rules will allow the licensed paralegals to provide limited legal services without a lawyer’s supervision in the following areas: cases involving temporary separation, divorce, cohabitant abuse, civil stalking, custody and support, name changes, cases involving forcible entry and debt collection matters in which the dollar amount in issue does not exceed the statutory limit for small claims cases.

Licensed paralegals will not be allowed to appear in court, but they will be permitted to perform the following services:

Interview clients to understand their objectives and obtain facts relevant to achieving that objective.

Handle forms, which includes being able to inform, counsel, advise, and assist in determining which form to use and give advice on how to complete the form; sign, file, and complete service of the form and to obtain, explain, and file any document needed to support the form.

Review and explain documents of another party.

Inform, counsel, assist and advocate for a client in mediated negotiations.

Fill in, sign, file and complete service of a written settlement agreement form in conformity with the negotiated agreement.

Communicate with another party or the party’s representative regarding the relevant form and matters reasonably related thereto.

Explain a court order that affects the client’s rights and obligations.

Although the Supreme Court has approved the program, it has not yet published the final regulations. Those are due to be published by the end of September.

Law Sites has more details.

Ethical Grounds has a comment here.

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