Washington experiments with more affordable legal advice

Washington is the first state to begin licensing nonlawyers to give legal advice, for a fraction of what lawyers often charge.

News Story (Washington)

Associated Press (AP)
September 27, 2015

Tags: Access to Justice


Under the “limited-license legal-technician” program, experienced paralegals who take additional courses in certain practice areas — for now, just family law — and who pass relevant exams become what’s been described as the nurse practitioners of the legal world.

They can advise clients, perform legal research and draft documents to be filed, though they can’t represent their clients in court or negotiate on their behalf.

“There’s a crucial need,” said professor Deborah Rhode, director of Stanford Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, noting that surveys have shown “over four-fifths of the legal needs of poor people and close to one-half of the needs of moderate income people are not being met.”

“Lawyers have priced themselves out of the market for people of limited means,” she said.