It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago the State Supreme Court passed Admission to Practice Rule 28 establishing the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) program. In an effort to keep our community informed on the progress of implementation of the program, below is an update on where we are at since my last report in February 2013. At that time, we had only just held our first LLLT Board meeting. Since that time, scarcely five months later, much has been accomplished. You may recall that the State Supreme Court hoped that we would have the program functional in one year.
To accomplish that goal, we divided the work into four subcommittees. The first two subcommittees to be empowered were 1) Scope of Practice and Forms, chaired by Greg Dallaire, and 2) Admissions and Licensing, chaired by UW Law School Professor Bill Covington. Both subcommittees completed their work at the LLLT Board’s July meeting.
As a result of this work, classes are planned for the practice-area education required by the Rule using professors from all three Washington law schools. These classes will begin at the UW Law School in September. The courses will be taught by law school professors and adjunct professors, and streamed throughout the state so students can “attend” the courses online and interact in real time with the professors.
The students eligible to take these courses are applicants who will be admitted through a limited-time waiver application that allows paralegals with a current national paralegal certification and 10 years of work under a Washington-licensed attorney to waive the core education requirement (45 credits at an ABA-approved paralegal program) and take the practice-area bar exam after successful completion of the practice-area education. WSBA began accepting waiver applications on Aug. 1, with an acceptance deadline of Sept. 18.
Simultaneously, the Board will now implement its next two subcommittees. Those subcommittees are 1) Rules of Professional Conduct, chaired by WSBA Past-president Ellen Dial, and 2) Examination, chaired by NJP staff attorney Lupe Artiga. Based upon the success of the work of the last two subcommittees, I anticipate that these two subcommittees will complete their work in the next six months.
Upon completion of the work of these two subcommittees, we believe we can offer the first examination to the aforementioned limited-waiver applicants in fall 2014.
To say the least, I am greatly encouraged by the progress of this Board toward accomplishing implementation of the Rule. The Rule continues to draw attention from bar associations and supreme courts across the country. California, Oregon and New York are all in the process of seriously studying adoption and implementation of a rule similar to our Limited License Legal Technician Rule. It is an exciting time as we lead on this issue. We’ll continue to proceed thoughtfully and deliberately to ensure that our program meets the goals of being affordable, accessible and academically rigorous. Our overriding commitment is to increase access to our justice system while ensuring protection of the public through high regulatory standards.