California State Bar publishes responses to its consultation on the licensing of a new paraprofessional.

In 2021 the California State Bar published a consultation on a potential new paraprofessional license designed to ease the access to justice problem being experienced in the state. This new type of legal paraprofessional is intended to be a cheaper alternative to a fully licensed lawyer and would only be able to offer a very restricted set of services.

The consultation has drawn a mixed response, with 800 of the reported 1,318 responses directly opposing the new license and a further 325 supporting modifications to the license as proposed. Much of this opposition came from attorneys, with 94% of this respondent group opposing the proposal. Interestingly, 87% of consumers who responded to the consultation supported the proposed new license.

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Oregon State Bar launches a consultation on new paraprofessional licensing plans

The Oregon State Bar has released plans for the introduction of licensed paraprofessionals, in a public consultation. It is proposing to restrict this new paraprofessional to practice in two areas of law, family and landlord/tenant issues. This is intended to help at least some of the 84% of Oregon residents who cannot currently access the legal help they need, easing pressures on access to justice in the state.

Other US States have had mixed success in trying to introduce paraprofessional qualifications. In 2022 the Washington State Supreme Court made the decision to sunset its  Limited License Legal Technician scheme, while the State Bar of California has faced a negative reaction to its own 2021 consultation on a paraprofessional license.

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California Bar launches access to justice consultation

The State Bar of California is seeking to solve the issue of access to justice many residents suffer given the high cost of legal services, by establishing a new paraprofessional. They estimate 85% of legal problems received no or inadequate help. It is hoped a new more affordable legal professional would go some way to mitigating this issue, which is faced not just in California but across the whole country.

This consultation with the public is aimed at informing them about what this paraprofessional would be, described as “to a lawyers what a nurse practitioner is to a doctor.” Members of the public are invited to feedback their thoughts until January 2022.

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