Find answers from the most common questions from our clients
The Supreme Court in the State of Washington is very aware of the concerns regarding adequate access to justice for those people that need legal assistance and may not be able to afford an attorney. As a result, Washington became the first state in the country to pass a law that allows a non-attorney, after obtaining the required experience, education, and qualifications to be licensed to practice law (within the limited scope of their license). An LLLT is not an attorney, but is able to assist pro se clients in many ways that may otherwise feel overwhelming and/or confusing. (A pro se client is a person that is representing themselves in a court case). An LLLT can provide legal advice and direction to assist their clients, as well as, prepare most documents that are necessary. All LLLTs are governed by Admission to Practice Rules and Rules of Professional Conduct much like an attorney. For more specific information about the qualifications and the rules that govern LLLTs, as well as a directory of the LLLTs currently in practice information can be accessed on the Washington State Bar Association website.
The first area of practice that an LLLT can become licensed in is “family law.” This includes cases such as divorces, legal separations, parenting plans, child support, parentage/paternity matters, and domestic violence.
As the state of Washington adds other areas of practice to this exciting new program – a legal technician will have to complete required law school classes in each particular area of practice, and again pass a licensing examination before assisting clients with any other area of practice.
No. While legal secretaries and paralegals may be very familiar with the mandatory forms used in the state of Washington; and even the local procedures specific to the county where you reside, they are prohibited by law from giving you the legal advice that you may need throughout your case and that goes along with specific forms and processes used. How you come out of a family law case can have a long lasting impact – make every effort to seek the advice of an attorney or a limited license legal technician before completing your case. Be wary of paying anyone for legal assistance that is not a licensed practitioner.
There is a directory of LLLTs on the Washington State Bar Association website.
No. Currently, an LLLT can prepare the necessary documents and give you some guidance for your court hearing, but cannot speak for you in the courtroom.
No. Just like attorneys, an LLLT is either an employee of a law firm, or is conducting their own private practice. They conduct their business/practice in a way that works for them and is conducive to the community they practice in. An individual LLLT should be contacted to find out what their hourly rate and/or fee schedule will be – and if they provide any services at no charge.
If it is determined that you cannot afford an attorney, or an LLLT, there are income based legal aid programs available in most communities.
Click here to find an office that serves the county in which your case is pending or should be filed.
While it is always advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney, or a LLLT – even for just one office conference, you are not required to do so and can attempt to go through the process on your own. A great resource for people doing just that, is here. This is a very user friendly website with lots of information for family law matters, as well as other areas of law.
Note: there is a lot of value in having at least an office conference with a legal professional to be sure you are headed in the right direction and understand what some of the issues are that will be addressed during the course of your case. Remember – how you come out of most family law cases can affect you for a long time including your finances, parenting plan schedules for children, child support, spousal support, etc.
In most family law cases, there is conflict over one or more issues in your case. Unless you reach agreements, any unresolved issues would have to be litigated in some way and a judge/court commissioner will determine the outcome.
Many counties have processes in place that require you to attempt to resolve disputes through negotiation prior to having a trial or other proceeding where someone else will make the decision for you.
Mediation is a tool that may be mandatory in your county for particular issues, such as parenting plan disputes. For information regarding dispute resolution centers where family law mediations are conducted,
For family law mediation cases in Cowlitz and Lewis Counties, see: http://cmclc.org/.
If you resolve your disputes through mediation or another form of negotiation – an LLLT can prepare the court orders for you to reflect your agreements and make sure the documents are in good order before they are presented to the court for signature.
Family law issues are typically emotionally charged. When you schedule your initial consultation, we will email you a short questionnaire to complete and bring with you to your appointment. This will allow you to feel and be prepared, so hopefully you will have less anxiety. It also ensures you have the information we will need. At our first meeting, we will discuss your issue(s) in general terms and we will provide legal insight as it applies to your situation. It is unlikely we can resolve your issue(s) in one meeting, but we will evaluate it and determine the best course of action. One more thing...due to the Legal Technician-client privilege it is best for us to speak with you alone (one-on-one), so we do not waive this valuable right of yours.
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