A limited licensed paraprofessional (LPP) is an individual who has received a certification to practice a certain type of law, whether that be family law or business law but is not a lawyer. This certification provides nonlawyers the knowledge needed to practice law at an effective level and be competent in court.
What is the Purpose of an LPP?
While currently being utilized in a few states, LPP certification is now being considered in 16 additional states. LLPs are being seen as a means to address the access to justice gap plaguing our country. As prices for formally trained lawyers skyrocket, more and more people are choosing to represent themselves. This opens them up to scrutiny and costly mistakes due to a financial inability to retain a lawyer. LPPs are being considered as more financially viable alternatives to fully trained lawyers, ensuring clients have access to competent legal professionals and do not find themselves in the position of needing to self-represent.
Benefits of Utilizing LPPs?
Despite the assistance of legal aid organizations and commitments from lawyers for pro bono work, the civil legal needs of low to moderate income individuals are critically underserved. Public defenders are hopelessly overworked, and clients are often heavily billed for underwhelming services.
The widespread use of LPPs could help alleviate the strain on the justice system. Even with limited scopes of work, implementing LPP models could increase the number of available legal professionals. This will create affordable legal options for low to moderate income Americans. It would also lessen the workload of public defenders so that they can provide better services.
Additionally, LPP programs often are completed for a fraction of the cost and time it takes to finish law school. This makes these programs an attractive option for students who might want to practice law but can’t afford law school without significant student loans.
Bridging the Access Gap While Keeping Standards High
Access to affordable legal representation is vital to bridging the access gap in the justice system. Average lawyer fees range from $150 to $300 per hour depending on experience. Individuals on a fixed or limited income may not be able to seek justice due to economic status or may be forced to self-represent. LPPs with training in the law field would have a better understanding of courtroom proceedings, plea bargains, and the discovery process. This representation could decrease the gap between high- and low-income people within the legal system.
Affordable Legal Representation
While access to affordable legal representation is important, ensuring high standards of that representation is essential. LPP certificate programs would replace three years of formal education in law school. Since LPPs are limited in work scope, LPP programs have a narrower focus. Programs can be designed to be completed faster and at less expense while remaining robust, quality programs that ensure the same standard of law is being practiced.
The Role of Paralegals in LPP Models
Experienced paralegals would be excellent LPP candidates, allowing paralegals to increase career opportunities and put the skills they’ve honed into broader application. However, it’s important to note that LPP models would not make paralegals obsolete. Paralegals would have the option to work for both LPP’s and lawyers, making the paralegal job market even stronger with increasing job opportunities.
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By: Sam Dykes, EKU Graduate Assistant