How Paralegals Can Fill Legal System Gaps, A Panel Discussion
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Our justice system is changing as demand for access to court services grows. Are specially trained paralegal professionals the answer?
Across the country, states are looking for ways to grant special licenses so paralegal professionals can handle some issues that have traditionally required an attorney. New programs with names including “allied legal professionals, “limited licensing,” and “legal paraprofessionals” are opening ways to offer access to justice and, at the same time, opening pathways for paralegals to expand their roles and embrace new opportunities.
This is important stuff that affects us all, even if the stereotype is that “legal aid” projects are for indigent cases, studies find up to 40% of the legal needs of middle-class people go unaddressed due to high demand and costs. There has to be a better way. The medical community developed new ways to provide care (nurse practitioners instead of an M.D.), so why can’t we build a new tier of legal service providers?
It's been a long slog as states individually decide how tiers of limited licensures can ensure access to justice. And it’s been contentious, maybe because the issue isn’t fully understood. Get educated and get involved with this informative episode of the Paralegal Voice.
Resources from This Episode:
The Landscape of Allied Legal Professional Programs (Report)
North Carolina Justice For All Project’s legislative proposal, “Looking Beyond Lawyers To Bridge The Civil Access To Justice Gap”
Limited License Legal Technicians, Washington State Bar
Arizona Legal Paraprofessionals (limited licensing)
American Bar Association, access commissions