Bar Associations

Will California be the next state to allow legal technicians? Bar group calls for pilot program

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Washington is currently the only state with a program allowing limited license legal technicians to help civil litigants prepare legal documents and provide advice on legal procedures. But bar groups in two other states are taking steps that could lead to legal technician programs in their own jurisdictions.

A task force of the Oregon State Bar issued a report last month recommending that the bar’s board of governors consider the concept of legal technicians to help increase access to justice, according to Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites. Now a California bar task force has published for comment a draft report that calls for a legal technician pilot program in one subject matter area, LawSites says.

The report by the State Bar of California’s Civil Justice Strategies Task Force says the state bar should first study design of the pilot program, addressing how oversight and licensing would be handled.

The California report also calls for a pilot program of volunteer navigators to attend hearings with self-represented litigants. The navigators could sit at the counsel table with litigants, but would not address the court.

The navigator idea is based on a New York pilot program that uses nonlawyer navigators to help unrepresented litigants in housing and consumer-debt cases.

Ambrogi covered the Washington and New York programs in a January article for the ABA Journal.

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