couple meeting with LLLT

The Role of Limited License Legal Technicians in a Family Law Case

We often receive inquiries from individuals who are looking for legal support, but worry they don’t have the funds to retain an attorney. In an effort to address this roadblock, and bridge the gap to justice access that is experienced by many, the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) program was introduced. Our firm has the privilege of having an amazing LLLT on our Washington team, who is able to provide invaluable legal support to a handful of clients who are looking for alternative options outside of hiring an attorney. With the Oregon Supreme Court recently announcing that they will be following Washington’s lead and introducing their own state-wide LLLT program, which will go into effect on July 1st, 2023, we wanted to further explain what services an LLLT can provide for a client.

What Exactly Is An LLLT?

LLLT stands for “Licensed Limited Legal Technician” and is an individual licensed by the State of Washington to perform limited legal services to the public. Legal technicians are not attorneys and do not represent clients in the way that attorneys do. However, they can provide many of the same services as attorneys, in a limited capacity. Clients of legal technicians represent themselves as “pro se” litigants. This is similar in manner to how Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication to patients without physician oversight.

Washington was one of the first states to create rules to allow for these types of legal services for clients by licensed non-attorneys. Many other states are currently in the process of creating their own non-attorney legal licensing rules.

What Types of Legal Matters Are LLLTs Allowed To Service?

For now, LLLTs may provide limited services only within the family law practice area. This generally includes the following family law case types:

  • Divorce, With or Without Children
  • Child Support Modification
  • Minor Parenting Plan Modification (where there is no change of custody)
  • Establish Parenting Plan and Child Support for Unmarried Couples
  • Establish Paternity for a Child, including Parenting Plan and Child Support
  • Motions for Temporary and Emergency Orders pertaining to the above case types
  • Most other motions pertaining to the above case types, such as for contempt and enforcement of orders
  • Assist with discovery and trial preparation pertaining to the above case types

What Kinds of Services Can an LLLT Provide?

A legal technician can provide substantive assistance to clients who are navigating the court system on their own. Those services include:

  • Consult with clients to obtain facts and explain the law that is pertinent to those facts.
  • Select, complete, file, and effect service of standard family law forms.
  • Inform clients of court rules and procedures, deadlines, and actions required during the course of a case.
  • Provide self-help materials.
  • Perform legal research.
  • Assist with obtaining documents necessary for the client’s case (discovery).
  • Assist with hearing, mediation, deposition, and trial preparation.

Are There Some Kinds of Services That an LLLT Cannot Provide?

Legal Technicians cannot:

  • Represent clients in court, in a mediation, or in a deposition.
  • Assist clients with certain family law case types, such as nonparental custody or disputed major parenting plan modifications.
  • Give legal advice as to certain issues pertinent to a family law matter, such as bankruptcy or division of a business.
  • Communicate with opposing parties or their attorneys.

What Is the Advantage Of Using An LLLT In A Family Law Case?

Many people in divorce and other family law cases are often unable to afford attorneys. The Washington State Supreme Court ordered adoption of the legal technician rule and profession to address a gap in “necessary legal and law related services for low and-moderate income persons.” By licensing qualified legal technicians, more people have access to legal services. In general, a client can expect a legal technician’s hourly rate to be about 1/3 to 1/2 that of an attorney’s, depending on both the attorney’s and the legal technician’s level of experience. Legal technicians can also offer flat-fee services for many common family law actions, so that clients are able to anticipate and budget for their legal expenses.

If you would like to set up a call with Pacific Cascade Legal’s LLLT, Christy Carpenter, please do not hesitate to get in contact. You can contact our firm at (360) 605-1000 to set up your free consultation today.