Legal matters can be complex and often intimidating for someone without the knowledge to navigate a sea of contracts and jargon that are often designed explicitly to be confusing. To make matters worse, hiring a lawyer can be an expensive and frustrating process with fees that leave many people settling out of court for smaller sums.
However, a historic program in Washington State seeks to change this by making legal advice more readily available to the common man. 9 candidates took a licensing exam to become the nation’s first limited license legal technicians (LLLTs). 7 of them passed the exam and are awaiting permission from the Supreme Court of Washington to begin practicing.
While not lawyers, these technicians will be able to provide legal advice to clients and advise them on whether or not it is worth it to seek counsel. They all studied and passed exams related to responsibility to their clients and domestic relations. Along with the 7 who passed the exam and the two who failed, another 6 completed the necessary coursework to become LLLTs.
There are additional steps that must still be completed for the Washington State Bar Association to approve the LLLTs including proof of 3000 hours of supervised experience and acquiring insurance. They will also need to pay a licensing fee and take an oath in front of the court.
If other states were to emulate the program being put together in Washington, it would provide an outlet for legal counsel and take significant stress off of lawyers and paralegals. It would also provide another level of experience for those interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal or as a lawyer.
The Washington Supreme Court will rule on their right to practice in the weeks to come and overcome the final hurdle keeping the LLLT’s from practicing.