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Washington State Supreme Court: “non-lawyer legal technicians” can advise clients in some areas of law

20 Jun

The Washington State Supreme Court has approved a Rule  permitting “non-lawyer legal technicians”  who meet certain educational requirements to advise clients on specific areas of law.

Here’s the official release, and the ABA Article can be found here. Attorney Richard Zorza blogs about the move, and lays out the potential for success and pitfalls with the program in his blog; he’s also analyzed the elements of WSSC’s program:

The most important parts of the program are as follows:

  • Licensed Legal Technicians must have formal paralegal training, and paralegal job experience,
  • They must have done 20 hours of pro bono within the prior two years,
  • They must take an exam,
  • They must show ability to meet financial responsibilities,
  • They are allowed to:
    • Explain facts and relevancy,
    • Inform the client of procedures and “anticipated course of the legal proceeding,”
    • Provide the client with self-help materials approved by the Board or prepared by a Washington state lawyer
    • Review and explain the other sides documents and exhibits,
    • Select and complete forms approved by various groups,
    • Perform legal research and write legal letters and documents, but only if reviewed by a Washington lawyer,
    • Advise the client about other needed documents,
    • Assist the client in obtaining needed documents,
  • Must have physical street address in Washington State,
  • Must have written contract describing services and fees,
  • CLE is required,
  • Attorney-client privilege and fiduciary duty apply.

The rule goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2012.

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