To bring you up to date, the SBPA board has learned that the California State Bar Board of Trustees, Law Practice Management and Technology Section (which concerns itself with paralegal issues, amongst other things) has taken up the idea of limited license legal technicians. This comes as a reaction to the Washington State Supreme Court’s determination that limited license legal technicians are to be explored and potentially permitted to operate under the auspices of the Washington State Bar.
In California, legal document assistants (“LDAs”) have already been in existence under Business and Professions Code, Section 6400, et seq., thus making the exploration of this issue distinct from what is happening in the state of Washington. It is interesting, however, to consider the possibility of expanding the role of LDAs so as to enable them to provide limited legal advice to clients without attorney supervision, in specific areas of expertise, under identified conditions. It’s my personal point of view (and not shared by everyone on the SBPA board) that any relaxation of the unauthorized practice of law policies enabling LDAs to serve as limited license legal technicians (expanding their existing roles) to provide some advisory services and/or advocacy directly to the public should be an extension/expansion of the existing system already in place. I believe that there is an inherent conflict of interest in the California State Bar being charged with oversight of any profession other than its own.
For an in-depth discussion of this topic, please view the thread on LinkedIn.com at: http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=2852279&item=213548086&type=member&commentID=121320311&trk=hb_ntf_COMMENTED_ON_GROUP_DISCUSSION_YOU_CREATED#commentID_121320311
The California Association of Legal Document Assistants (CALDA) and California Alliance of Paralegal Associations (CAPA), along with SBPA are actively monitoring State Bar developments in this area – and you can too! CAPA and CALDA are sending representatives to the Board of Trustee meetings, the next one of which is set for April 11th:
The agenda for the State Bar’s Limited License Working Group meeting on April 11, 2013 has been posted on the State Bar’s website at http://board.calbar.ca.gov/ — there’s a link at the bottom of that web page where one may subscribe so as to receive notices of updates and status. I encourage all who are interested to let the State Bar know by increasing the list of subscribers – let’s show how many of us are watching this concept’s development.
I’ve been in direct communication with Perry Segal, Chair of Calbar’s Law Practice Management and Technology Section Executive Committee, who informs me that if a proposal is eventually submitted for public comment, LPMT may or may not consider making a public comment depending on its content. He suggests that SBPA may also wish to consider submitting public comments (ya think?).
Also, most of the meetings don’t provide a call-in feature, so usually it is necessary to attend in person – if this begins to seriously develop and raise concerns, we may want to send a personal representative to a future meeting to speak in our behalf.
Please let the SBPA board have your informed response to this issue – read the available material, facts and information and get involved!
More important updates coming soon.
Barbara L. Liss,
2013 President, Santa Barbara Paralegal Association