Washington Courts Approve Non-Lawyers as Plaintiffs’ Assistants

By Denise Johnson | July 24, 2012

Washington plaintiffs, unable to afford legal counsel, may soon be able to hire Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLT) to handle some of the paperwork thanks to a new Supreme Court rule adopted last month.

The Washington Supreme Court adopted APR 28, entitled “Limited Practice Rule for Limited License Technicians,” which it said will allow non-lawyers with certain levels of training to provide technical help on simple legal matters.

According to the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA), the rule allows non-attorneys who meet certain educational requirements to advise clients on specific areas of law.

Debra Carnes, chief communications officer for the WSBA, said there are still unanswered questions relating to the recently passed rule.

Though the rule becomes effective Sept. 1, LLLTs can’t begin working under the rule until the Supreme Court appoints a board, according to the WSBA.

In addition, this board must adopt practice areas and rules of conduct. Also, the courts have to develop examination and continuing education requirements, the association said.

The rule’s effect on the insurance industry won’t be known until the court designates the practice areas in which legal techs may provide assistance.

LLLTs will be able to do certain things without lawyer supervision, according to the WSBA. In order to work with a client, an LLLT has to determine whether the case falls within the defined practice area. If it does, the WSBA states, the LLLT can do the following:

  • Gather facts;
  • Explain relevancy to the client;
  • Inform the client of procedures, deadlines and documents involved in the course of the legal proceeding;
  • Inform the client of procedures for proper service of process and filing of legal documents;
  • Provide approved self-help materials;
  • Review and explain documents and exhibits received from the opposing party;
  • Select and complete approved forms;
  • Advise the client about other documents needed and how they might affect the matter;
  • Assist the client in obtaining documents such as birth, death or marriage certificates.

Without attorney supervision, LLLTs can perform legal research and draft documents and forms beyond what is approved only when the work is reviewed and approved by a Washington lawyer, according to the WSBA fact sheet.

LLLTs can’t provide services outside of the approved practice areas, negotiate on behalf of the client or represent the client during formal legal proceedings, the association stated.

The WSBA anticipates LLLTs will be required to carry malpractice insurance.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.