Volume 40 Number 1

Limited License Legal Technicians: Non-lawyers Get Access to the Legal Profession, But Clients Won’t Get Access to Justice

Washington Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLTs) are non-lawyers who will supposedly help to close “the wide and ever-growing gap in necessary legal and law related services for low and moderate income persons.” However, LLLTs will not close the access to justice gap because “[t]here are no protections . . . to ensure that legal technicians will actually provide services to the poor, as opposed to selling their services to those who can most afford them,” and LLLTs are “not going to have the competency to actually do for the poor what needs to be done.” Additionally, the modifications of the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct (RPCs) accompanying the adoption of the LLLT rule create significant ethical issues by allowing non-lawyer ownership of law firms and fee sharing among lawyers and LLLTs.

Although many other authors seem to support the creation of practitioners like LLLTs, this Comment argues that the Washington State Supreme Court erred in adopting APR 28 and amending the Washington RPCs because the existence of an access to justice gap is not a sufficient justification for allowing non-lawyers to access the legal profession. Low-income people need lawyers, not LLLTs, and the potential ethical issues that arise by allowing LLLTs to practice law demonstrate that APR 28 is improperly designed.

Part I of this Comment discusses the extensive limitations APR 28 imposes on LLLTs. Part II discusses the relevant RPC amendments and the potential impact of the proposed LLLT Rules of Professional Conduct (LLLT RPCs), which further limit LLLTs’ scope of practice. Part III discusses the arguments against LLLTs. Finally, Part IV discusses a viable alternative to the LLLT rule.

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