Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 21

"

If we are going to add 'limited' nonlawyer
services in D.C. to address the reality of the
needs here, we have to develop a program
that provides opportunities and incentives
for qualified nonlawyers to provide services
at a much lower cost.
SHELDON KRANTZ
DC Affordable Law Firm

Professionals, or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. Modeled
after Washington State's LLLT program, LPPs help self-represented litigants in
family law, landlord-tenant, and consumer debt matters, but cannot provide
in-court representation.
Oregon also is considering allowing nonlawyer paraprofessionals to provide
limited legal services. In June 2017, the Oregon State Bar Futures Task Force
recommended the creation of a licensure program for paraprofessionals "who
would be authorized to provide limited legal services, without attorney supervision, to self-represented litigants in (1) family law and (2) landlord-tenant
proceedings."
"The most compelling argument for licensing paraprofessionals is that the Bar's
other efforts to close the access-to-justice gap have continued to fall short. We
must broaden the options available for persons seeking to obtain legal services,
while continuing to strive for full funding of legal aid and championing pro
bono representation by lawyers," the task force said in its report.
In June 2019, the State Bar of California's Task Force on Access Through Innovation
of Legal Services proposed allowing nonlawyers to (1) provide specified legal
advice and services with appropriate regulation and (2) hold a financial interest in
law firms. The proposals have been submitted for public comment.
Other states have launched or are developing nonlawyer navigator programs
to assist self-represented litigants with civil legal matters. A June 2019 report
by the Justice Lab at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.,
identified 23 such programs currently in existence.
The report, "Nonlawyer Navigators in State Courts: An Emerging Consensus,"
noted that those who championed the programs, including the judiciary, state
access-to-justice commissions, and bar foundations, "brought a range of diverse
resources and strategies to help meet the [self-represented litigant] demand
and have created programs without major regulatory reform or rule changes."
New York City, for instance, allows volunteer court navigators to help selfrepresented litigants navigate its landlord-tenant court; some volunteers can
even accompany clients in the Bronx Civil Court and in the Kings County and
Queens County housing courts.

In the United Kingdom and Australia, "there is a greater variety of individuals
and organizations that can provide legal services," says Kathleen Clark, vice chair
of the D.C. Bar Global Legal Practice Committee. For example, organizations not
owned by lawyers, including for-profit companies, are able to offer legal
services to clients, a practice not allowed in the United States.
For people who are not eligible for pro bono legal assistance because their
incomes exceed the federal poverty guidelines, LLLTs, LPPs, and other nonlawyer legal services providers are a lifeline. When Peterson-Lalka sought
counsel from lawyers for her child custody matter, she recalls being told that
the retainer alone could cost approximately $1,500.
"That's not something I could come up with at the drop of a hat," she says.
"Most Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. So, to come up with something between $1,500 and $2,000 just to start a case is almost unattainable,
even for someone with a moderate income."

VIABILITY IN THE DISTRICT
But how viable would the LLLT model be for the rest of the country? The District
of Columbia has more than 30 legal services provider organizations serving its
low-income population, yet more than 80 percent of D.C. residents still represent
themselves in Superior Court despite the city's high concentration of lawyers.
"It's untenable that so many represent themselves in situations where they are
in danger of losing custody of their children or being evicted," says Sheldon
Krantz, executive director of the DC Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), a nonprofit
charitable organization that provides legal services to clients at reduced rates.
"We need to be looking at alternative ways of providing needed services to
people who confront a complicated legal system on their own."
At its first meeting in December 2018, the newly formed D.C. Bar Global Legal
Practice Committee began studying the different models for providing legal
services, including the LLLT program. "We are at an early stage of our inquiry.
So, I'm not in any position to go into a lot of detail," says Clark. "But one question
that arises is whether the model in Washington State is a step in the right direction. Is it sufficient? And how does it compare to what is occurring outside the
United States?"

*

SEPTEMBER 2019

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER

21


https://www.dcbar.org/

Washington Lawyer - September 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - September 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Tomorrow’s Lawyers: Jd + Practice Ready
The Justice Gap & The Rise Of Nonlawyer Legal Providers
D.C. Bar Cle: Keeping Up With The Law
Aba Delegate’s Corner
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
2019 Celebration Of Leadership & Presidents Reception
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Tomorrow’s Lawyers: Jd + Practice Ready
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - The Justice Gap & The Rise Of Nonlawyer Legal Providers
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - D.C. Bar Cle: Keeping Up With The Law
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 26
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Aba Delegate’s Corner
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 32
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 2019 Celebration Of Leadership & Presidents Reception
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - September 2019 - Cover4
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