Are Limited License Legal Technicians Coming to Oregon?

With the success of the Washington Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) experiment, will Oregon finally dip its toe into paraprofessional licensing? The answer appears to be yes.

In June 2017 the OSB Futures Task Force submitted its report to the OSB Board of Governors. Among the recommendations: implementation of a paraprofessional licensing (LLLT) program in Oregon.

The task force recommended the BOG appoint a committee to develop a detailed implementation plan. The plan would include draft rules of admission, practice, and professional conduct for approval by the Supreme Court and adoption by the BOG. ORS Chapter 9 would be amended to provide for licensure of paraprofessionals who would be authorized to provide limited legal services, without attorney supervision, to self-represented litigants in family law and landlord-tenant proceedings. Consumer protection measures would also be enacted.

Why Do We Need LLLTs (Paraprofessionals)?

Short answer: access to justice. As detailed in the task force report, the number of self-represented litigants continues to grow. Legal Aid, pro bono services, and limited scope representation only meet a small part of the need.

Minimum Qualifications and Licensing

The task force report lays out a series of minimum qualifications for paraprofessionals or LLLTs. Licensing would include “liability insurance in an amount to be determined,” preferably through the Professional Liability Fund, and continuing legal education. To protect the public from confusion, LLLTs would be required to use written agreements with mandatory disclosures.

Scope of Services

“Licensees should be able to select, prepare, file, and serve forms
and other documents in an approved proceeding; provide information and advice relating to the proceeding; communicate and negotiate with another party; and provide emotional and administrative support to the client in court. Licensees should be prohibited from representing clients in depositions, in court, and in appeals.”

Proposed Expansion of Washington’s LLLT Program

BOG approval of a LLLT/paraprofessional program seems greater than 50-50. As we await the outcome in Oregon, Washington is seeking to update its program. Under draft amendments, the LLLT role would expand to permit:

  • Accompanying and assisting clients in specific court proceedings, mediation, settlement conferences, and arbitration proceedings.
  • Attending, but not participating in, depositions.
  • Communicating with opposing counsel and parties on procedural matters and negotiations.
  • Gathering information on the value and potential encumbrances on a home.
  • Presenting agreed, uncontested, and default court orders.
  • Assisting clients seeking nonparental custody or major modifications up to the point of the adequate cause hearing.
  • Dividing single-family residential dwellings which have no more than twice the homestead exemption in equity.

Washington bar members have until July 17 to submit comments.

Parting Thoughts

At its June meeting, the BOG accepted the OSB Futures Task Force report. As noted on the OSB website, “the board will be looking at those recommendations throughout the year and likely into 2018.” Comments are encouraged and may be submitted to president@osbar.org.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017

Free Law Practice Transition CLE

On November 1, the Oregon State Bar is offering a FREE Law Practice Transition CLE for lawyers who are interested in buying or selling a law practice.  Here is the announcement:

The legal profession is undergoing a demographic shift as baby boomers retire in large numbers and a steady stream of law school grads enter the marketplace. In the meantime, the ratio of new lawyers to entry-level positions has caused many new lawyers to hang out their own shingle when they don’t find employment elsewhere.

To address this issue, a free CLE will be held on Friday, November 1, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the bar center in Tigard, with a social/networking hour hosted by LawPay immediately following. “Law Practice Transitions: Buying, Selling, or Transferring a Law Practice” is the first in a new series of seminars designed to help lawyers looking to move into our out of an existing practice.

Whether you want to sell or you are looking to start a career (without starting from scratch), this CLE will give you valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to transition planning. Plus, all attendees will receive a coupon code to post a practice for sale on the bar’s online Career Center for FREE!

Thanks to LawPay for graciously hosting the social/networking event immediately following the CLE.

Special thanks to the Oregon New Lawyers Division and the Sole and Small Firm Practice Section for the assistance with this program.

 

Telephone Scam Hits Washington Lawyers

The Oregon State Bar is warning lawyers of a telephone scam underway now in Washington:

Scam Alert
OSB members:  The Washington State Bar Association is warning its members about a telephone scam in which callers claiming to represent the bar are asking its members for personal information. These calls are not from the WSBA. Although we have no reports of similar calls in Oregon at this time, it has happened in the past and could recur. If you receive such a call do not reveal any personal information.

Posted on the OSB home page August 12, 2013.

Proposed Changes to Advertising and Solicitation Rules Give Your 2 Cents

untitledThe Oregon State Bar is currently soliciting comments regarding proposed amendments to Oregon RPCs 7.1-7.5 governing advertising and solicitation.  Comments should be submitted in writing to the Legal Ethics Committee in care of
OSB General Counsel Helen Hierschbiel at hhierschbiel@osbar.org by August 9.

A summary of the proposed changes can be found here, along with background information. For a side-by-side comparison of the old rules vs. new rules, see this chart.

LawPay Discount through Oregon State Bar

In a monumental break in tradition, the Oregon State Bar is currently promoting a member discount for LawPay credit card processing through the month of July.  Here are the details as posted on the OSB Web site:

It is critical for attorneys to handle transactions between their trust and operating accounts correctly. With LawPay, law firms can accept credit cards with confidence, because a LawPay account is structured to handle the unique requirements of a lawyer’s obligations regarding client funds. As a result, LawPay is offered by 37 state and 49 local bar associations, including the Oregon State Bar. Oregon attorneys who use LawPay will receive reduced processing rates, multiple features for the client-attorney transaction, and a level of personalized service not easily found elsewhere. The LawPay contract is month-to-month and all standard fees associated with opening a merchant account are waived for OSB members. With discounted fees, users can save up to 25% off standard credit and debit card fees. Plus, if you open a LawPay Merchant Account in the month of July 2013, we will waive the standard $150 virtual terminal fee and also waive the program fee for three months.

Historically the Oregon State Bar shied away from membership discount programs.  Perhaps the partnership with LawPay will be the first of many…