A legal paraprofessional is someone who has met requirements to provide legal advice and representation on a limited basis, in particular areas of law. Licensing requirements generally include education, training, and testing. There are currently several states that license legal paraprofessionals, and California is in the process of creating such a license.
Many Californians cannot afford a lawyer when they need one, so people at all income levels go without legal services even when they have legal problems. It’s called the Justice Gap. The State Bar Board of Trustees is looking at ways to increase access to legal services in California and help to close the Justice Gap. Licensing paraprofessionals who could provide services at a lower cost than attorneys may be a part of the solution. That is why the Board directed creation of this working group. Its charge is to recommend to the Board what a paraprofessional licensure/certification program in California might look like.
That is among the questions the working group is examining. The working group is considering allowing paraprofessionals to provide legal advice and representation in some areas of law.
That is another question the working group intends to address. Areas under consideration include family law, landlord-tenant, and consumer debt, among others.
The working group is determining recommended requirements for a licensure/certification program as well as how such professionals would be regulated and disciplined. Licensing requirements will include education, testing, and experience. Ongoing requirements will include mandatory continuing legal education and demonstration of financial responsibility.
The working group is holding a public hearing by Zoom video call to share an update on its progress and to hear input from the public. The hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. View agenda.
The working group is particularly interested in hearing from consumers. If you are a consumer who has experienced challenges accessing legal services or have opinions about what legal paraprofessionals should or should not be able to do, this is an opportunity to be heard! In addition, because the working group will be discussing paraprofessional licensing, regulation, and discipline at the October 29 meeting, members of the public and other stakeholders interested in those aspects of the program are encouraged to participate. To ensure that everyone has a chance to speak, speakers should plan to limit their comments to seven minutes.
Visit the State Bar website to learn more about the California Paraprofessional Program Working Group’s charter and responsibilities. You can also read the Fact Sheet for more information. You can also sign up to receive email notifications about this group’s meetings. All meetings are open to the public, and time is allotted for public comment. Learn more about the State Bar’s public comment guidelines.