Long time readers of this blog will remember that over the past few years there has been a debate on whether jurisdictions should allow non-lawyers to provide certain types of legal services in order to provide better access to representation. I have posted many comments, links to articles and podcasts, most recently here.
For all that discussion on the topic, however, only two jurisdictions (Washington and Utah) have actually created programs to do something about it by recognizing and regulating "legal technicians" (or LLLTs for "limited license legal techinicians").
That is about to change. Last week I read that the Oregon State Bar’s Board of Governors has voted to approve a recommendation to create a paraprofessional licensing program and a proposal to enable individuals to become licensed lawyers without attending law school, by completing a four-year tutelage program.
The paraprofessional licensing proposal seems to be similar to the LLLT programs in Washington and Utah. The other proposal, referred to as a Writing for the Bar Program, would allow individuals to sit for the bar exam and be licensed to practice without having to attend law school. Its goal is to reduce law school debt and to enable more people — and a greater diversity of people — to enter the practice of law. Instead of going to law school, the program would require applicants to work under a tutor, at least 32 hours a week, in a law office, legal department or court for four years. The tutor would be required to provide instruction on certain specified subjects.
Both proposals require further actions to develop more-detailed plans and regulations for implementing them and, both programs will require approval by the Oregon Supreme Court before becoming final.
Law Sites has more details and links to the proposals.