New legal profession starting in Arizona

By Kyra Haas | Arizona Capitol Times December 17, 2021

Ten nonlawyer legal paraprofessionals will soon begin work in Arizona, offering legal services in limited practice areas previously restricted to licensed attorneys. 

 The creation of this new level of legal services provider is an effort to narrow the “justice gap.” That’s the difference between low-income people’s civil legal needs and the resources available to meet them, according to the Legal Services Corporation, the country’s largest funder of that aid. 

“Research on unmet civil legal needs suggest that around 80% of such need does not make it into a court. At the same time, legal aid organizations are able to satisfy less than half of those that request legal help,” according to a 2019 report from the Arizona Supreme Court Task Force on the Delivery of Legal Services. 

One of the task force’s recommendations was to create this program. Utah and Washington state have launched similar programs. States including California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Oregon are exploring the possibility. 

The Arizona Supreme Court’s Board of Nonlawyer Legal Service Providers licensed these first 10 legal paraprofessionals in late November. They’ll soon be affiliate members of the State Bar of Arizona, and then they can start offering these limited services without the supervision of an attorney.  

The limited areas of practice include family law, limited jurisdiction civil, limited jurisdiction criminal and administrative law. Before applying for a license, individuals must pass a core exam and an exam for their specific practice area.

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