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The limited license legal technician is the way of the future of law

Friday, December 08, 2017

The limited license legal technician is the way of the future of law


"The first time I heard about the Washington State Bar Association’s Limited License Legal Technician program was when I hosted an Evolve Law event in Seattle in November 2015. I had just moved to the state and I was immediately intrigued by what I heard about the program.

The LLLT program is currently the only paraprofessional program of its kind, fully operational, within the United States. Many states offer court facilitators, but their offerings do not rise to the same level of independence as LLLTs. Unlike paralegals, the WSBA technicians operate on their own, without a supervising lawyer. At this time, LLLTs can help clients on family law matters only. However, the LLLT cannot represent people in court or negotiate—all communications must go through the client. With states consistently reporting that 80 percent of their citizens cannot afford an attorney for civil matters, plus the education gap as outlined here, the United States clearly has an access to justice problem. It’s a national crisis, and the LLLT approach is an important piece of the solution.

Over the past two years, whenever I’ve moderated various panels, the LLLT program has been hailed as an example of alternative legal services and access to justice. The reaction wasn’t all positive, however. I was surprised to hear dozens of lawyers, mainly from outside of Washington, criticize the program. When I probed deeper, the complaints did not appear to be well-founded, and my curiosity was piqued..."

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