Tag: licensed paralegal practitioner

Are Licensed Paralegal Practitioners a good idea?

I just received and responded to a survey from Alyx Mark, assistant professor at Wesleyan University and a law and society scholar. After completing the survey, I sent this e-mail to Professor Mark:

Professor Mark,

I just completed your survey on the Utah LPP (Licensed Paralegal Practitioner) program.

I am not an LPP. I have never been an LPP. I am a divorce and family lawyer and have been for 25 years.

I do not employ any LPPs and never have. I do not have any financial interest in the success of the LPP program. I would benefit personally were there no LPPs, but I do not oppose the LPP program. I support it because I support reducing the costs associated with access to justice. I support the LPP program and its development and refinement. I know that I am rare among divorce and family lawyers in that regard. I support it because I believe in progress and believe in the free market as one of the best engines of progress, especially in the provision of legal advice and services.

The access to legal information (and advice) on the Internet has destroyed much of what made lawyers special and valuable when the only practical access to such knowledge was to go to law school, learn it, and remember it.

I know that most divorce and family lawyers who oppose LPPs do so out of self-interest and not a burning desire to ensure that the public gets the best legal advice possible. Consequently, lawyers who oppose the LPP program and others like it in other jurisdictions know they can’t public state their real reasons for their opposition  because nobody would listen and worse, telling people “you need lawyers, not LPPs, because lawyers need a monopoly” without engendering even more loathing and distrust for the legal profession than already exists. And so the arguments lawyers try to make to persuade the profession and the public to oppose the LPP program are as transparently lame as they are self-serving.

There are legitimate concerns about opening the practice of law to people less educated in the law, but few practicing lawyers oppose LPP programs on that basis.

As I have stated since the LPP program was proposed: lawyers had every opportunity to maintain their monopoly by providing the services the public wants and need in a manner and at a price the public wants, but the lawyers got complacently greedy. When the lawyers stopped offering a service the public was willing to pay for, the market looked elsewhere.

Would you share your survey results with me when you complete it?


Eric K. Johnson,

Utah Family Law, LC

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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What is the difference between a lawyer and a consultant?

Anyone can call himself or herself a consultant. It requires no special training, no special test or certification or license. One can be a “legal consultant” without having gone to law school, without having taken the bar exam, and without having a law license. But that consultant cannot practice law. In my jurisdiction (Utah), one cannot practice law without a license. What “practice law” means, however, is is always in flux. Just when it seems that a good definition of “practice of law” is formulated, somebody finds a legitimate exception.

There are millions of people who are not lawyers but who nevertheless have extensive legal knowledge. Your accountant must know and understand a substantial body of law and regulations. He/she can even explain these laws to you and give certain kinds of (what we have to concede constitutes) “legal advice” based upon this knowledge. But only lawyers are allowed to perform certain tasks or provide certain kinds of legal advice.

Many non-lawyers can provide many kinds of useful legal information and services. Depending upon what the laws and regulations are in your jurisdiction, it may be perfectly legal and perfectly safe for you to get legal forms from a non-lawyer and even “clerical” help and information (as opposed to “specific legal advice”) in filling them out.

Bottom line: If you need a lawyer, don’t hire a consultant. Both you and the consultant could get burned. If you want to play it safe when it comes to assurances that you are getting real legal representation and advice from someone qualified to practice law, hire a lawyer.

To know who is and is not a lawyer, inquire with your jurisdiction’s bar association or whatever the entity in your jurisdiction is that keeps track of licensed lawyers. If the person you are contemplating hiring as a lawyer is not on the list, you may be dealing with an impostor.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

The Proposed Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules – Utah Supreme Court

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