STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA TASK FORCE ON ACCESS THROUGH INNOVATION OF LEGAL SERVICES
FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS, dated March 6, 2020
Excerpt from State Bar of California Board Minutes of March 12, 2020.
“Proposed Paraprofessional Program Working Group Charter
March 12, 2020
Proposed Working Group Charter
The State Bar’s recently published California Justice Gap Study: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Californians, found that while 55 percent of Californians experience at least one civil legal problem in their household each year, Californians received inadequate or no legal help for 85 percent of these problems. A lack of knowledge about what constitutes a legal issue and concerns about legal costs lead many Californians to deal with problems on their own rather than seek legal help. A thoughtfully designed and appropriately regulated paraprofessional program is an important component of the solution to the access to legal services crisis in California by expanding the pool of available and affordable legal service providers.
The California Paraprofessional Program Working Group is hereby established and charged with developing recommendations for consideration by the Board of Trustees for the creation of a paraprofessional licensure/certification program to increase access to legal services in California. In carrying out this charge, the Working Group will balance the dual goals of ensuring public protection and increasing access to legal services.
The Working Group will develop specific recommendations regarding the following:
1. The eligibility requirements to apply for the program, including the competencies required of licensed/certified paraprofessionals and the ways in which candidates can demonstrate those competencies. In developing these recommendations the Working Group will consider different pathways for licensure/certification for applicants based on their general academic and experiential qualifications, including but not limited to, candidates who might fall in one of the following categories: immigration consultants, Legal Document Assistants, Unlawful Detainer Assistants, paralegals, law school graduates, law students, and/or participants in or who have completed the State Bar’s law office study program.
2. Selection of practice areas that will be included in the program. Practice type decisions should be informed by data sources, including but not limited to the California Justice Gap Study, California Attorney Practice Analysis Study, and court self-help center utilization data.
3. The types of tasks, by practice area, that paraprofessionals will be permitted to perform. The Working Group should consider and propose any requisite changes to the rules and statutes governing the unauthorized practice of law, and any other requisite changes to the rules of professional conduct that may be needed, to permit the performance of these types of tasks.
4. Business requirements, including financial responsibility requirements such as insurance or contribution to a client security fund.
5. A licensing/certification and regulatory model including consideration of rules of conduct for the new paraprofessional licensees.
6. Metrics and data collection methods to enable assessment of the program’s effectiveness and to facilitate possible auditing and other proactive risk-based regulation.
7. Increasing awareness about how to seek legal help.”