By John W. Mervilde, Meils Thompson Dietz & Berish
Washington State recently implemented a program for what it calls limited license legal technicians (LLLTs). At the moment, this program has only 26 participants, and the program is limited to family law practice. Unlike paralegals, LLLTs (after taking required classes and spending 3,000 working under an attorney) may practice on their own and not under the direct supervision of attorneys. LLLTs can prepare certain documents and can provide some legal advice, but cannot represent clients in court or directly negotiate on their behalf. They charge lower rates than attorneys. A program like this would appear to be a mixed bag for solo and small firm attorneys if implemented in Indiana (either for family law or generally). On one hand, a solo or small firm attorney who employs an LLLT could attract and retain clients by lowering the client's cost on certain tasks. On the other hand, this may lower the profitability of the practice, and there is a chance that LLLTs could provide direct competition for many solo/small firm attorneys No program like this is in existence in Indiana at this point, but as clients seek alternate means to accomplish legal tasks without retaining counsel, this is a trend worth monitoring.
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