Licensed Paralegal Practitioner

Program Overview

Rule 14-802 of the Rules Governing the Utah State Bar creates an exception to the authorization to practice law for an LPP. The exception permits an LPP to assist a client only in the practice areas for which the LPP is licensed. The rule limits an LPP's possible practice areas to:

Gavel-Scales
  • Specific family law matters, such as temporary separation, divorce, parentage, cohabitant abuse, civil stalking, custody and support, name or gender change, and petitions to recognize a relationship as a marriage;
  • Forcible entry and detainer; and
  • Debt collection matters in which the dollar amount at issue does not exceed the statutory limit for small claims cases.

Rule 14-802 also enumerates permissible actions for LPPs within the practice areas. Under this rule, an LPP may represent the interests of a natural person by:

  • Entering into a contractual relationship with a client (LPPs cannot represent corporations); (c)(1)(A) 
  • Interviewing a client to determine the client’s needs and goals; (c)(1)(B) 
  • Assisting a client with completing forms approved by the Judicial Council or preparing documents that are consistent with the relevant portions of the approved forms; (c)(1)(C) 
  • Informing, counseling, advising, and assisting in determining which form to use and giving advice on how to complete the form; (c)(1)(D) 
  • Signing, filing, and completing service of the form; (c)(1)(E) 
  • Obtaining, explaining, preparing, and filing any document needed to support those forms; (c)(1)(F) 
  • Reviewing documents of another party and explain those documents to a client; (c)(1)(G) 
  • Informing, counseling, assisting, negotiating, and advocating for a client for purposes of settlement; (c)(1)(H) 
  • Filling in, signing, filing, and completing service of a written settlement agreement form in conformity with the negotiated agreement; (c)(1)(I) 
  • Communicate with another party or the party’s representative regarding the relevant forms and matters reasonably related thereto; (c)(1)(J) 
  • Explain to a client the court’s order and how it affects the client’s rights and obligations; (c)(1)(K) 
  • Standing or sitting with the client during a proceeding to provide emotional support, answering factual questions as needed that are addressed to the client by the court or opposing counsel, taking notes, and assisting the client to understand the proceeding and relevant orders. (c)(1)(L).

 An LPP may not charge contingency fees (UCJA Rule 13-1.05(e) and must provide their clients with a written agreement (see UCJA Rule 13-1.05(f) for details). They may, however, own their own firms, own a non-controlling equity interest in a firm with attorneys, and use the courts’ e-filing systems. There will be no pro hac vice admissions and no reciprocal licensing, at least for the time being. They will be required to have trust accounts and will have the obligation to provide pro bono services.

 

Required Qualifications and Education

Rules Governing Licensed Paralegal Practitioner ("RGLPP") 15-703 establishes the education and training requirements for an LPP. An LPP applicant must have one of the following:

  • A degree in law from an accredited law school;
  • An Associate degree in paralegal studies from an accredited school;
  • A Bachelor's degree in paralegal studies from an accredited school;
  • A Master's Degree in legal studies or equivalent that is offered through an Approved Law School; or
  • Obtained either the Certified Paralegal (CP or CLA) credential from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA); the Professional Paralegal (PP) credential from the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS); or the Registered Paralegal (RP) credential from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

In addition to those degree requirements, an applicant is required to:

  • Complete 1,500 hours of substantive law-related experience within the 3 years prior to the application. These hours must include:
    • 500 hours of substantive law-related experience in family law if the applicant want to practice in that area; or
    • 100 hours of substantive law related experience in debt collection or forcible entry and detainer if the applicant wants to be licensed in those areas;
  • Pass a professional ethics examination.
  • Pass a Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Examination for each practice area for which the applicant seeks to practice.

 

Required Classes

All classes will be offered through continuing education at Utah Valley University.

  1. ETHICS CLASS – All applicants, including those with a law degree, will be required to take this class.
  2. DEBT COLLECTION CLASS – Required for all applicants applying to practice in debt collection (law degree exempt)
  3. FAMILY LAW CLASS – Required for all applicants applying to practice in family law (law degree exempt)
  4. LANDLORD/TENANT CLASS – Required for all applicants applying to practice in landlord/tenant (law degree exempt)

 

Program Timeline

  • NOVEMBER 1, 2018 – Rules to be approved by the Court and enacted
  • JANUARY 2019 – First classes available through UVU
  • SPRING 2019 – Applications accepted
  • SPRING 2019 – Exams offered in March and August through the Utah State Bar

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Did the Utah Supreme Court and the Utah State Bar Develop the LPP Program?

The idea to create a market based solution for the unmet needs of litigants started with a task force created by the Utah Supreme Court in May 2015. The recommendations of that task force were then assigned to the LPP Steering Committee which has met frequently over the past year. The LPP Steering Committee's composition is broad, including judges from the trial and appellate courts, practitioners in each of the substantive law areas in which an LPP may practice, paralegals, representatives of colleges and universities with legal studies programs, the Dean of the University of Utah law school and a representative from BYU law school, a former state senator, a consumer protection representative, Utah State Bar staff, and several public members. The LPP Steering Committee created working groups to develop education criteria, licensing requirements and rules of professional conduct. The working groups also met frequently over the last year and involved various stakeholders who could help with each group's specific task. The LPP Steering Committee's work has been deliberative and subject to approval by the Utah Supreme Court and the Judicial Council.

Who Will Administer This New Profession?

LPPs will be officers of the court and practice law. Pursuant to authority delegated from the Utah Supreme Court, the Utah State Bar will administer all aspects of the new profession, including admissions, license renewal, and monitoring compliance with continuing legal education requirements. Bar assistance programs, such as fee arbitration and Lawyers Helping Lawyers, will be available to LPPs. At its most recent Board of Bar Commissioners meeting, the Utah State Bar formally agreed to include in its budget the cost of administering the LPP program.

Are LPPs Subject to Ethical Standards and Discipline?

Yes. The Utah Supreme Court has adopted Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct which provide ethical obligations for LPPs and establish Rules of LPP Discipline and Disability as well as standards for imposing discipline similar to those which govern attorneys. The Office of Professional Conduct will investigate and, if necessary, prosecute complaints against LPPs, and the rules make them subject to potential discipline.

Is There a Market for LPPs?

Yes. Utah undeniably has a need for more accessible legal representation. The Utah Bar's recent survey indicates that people are often interested in self-representation with some support from a legal practitioner. The limited scope of legal services provided by an LPP is one viable solution to this issue. It's also clear that there is a strong interest among paralegals to pursue this licensing option. In a recent survey conducted by the Utah Supreme Court's LPP Steering Committee, more than 200 paralegals expressed an interest in getting licensed as an LPP. The majority were interested in establishing an LPP practice within a law firm, while about a third were interested in starting an independent LPP firm.