Archive for LLLT

Why the LLLT Program is Necessary

The LLLT is a paraprofessional legal program which operates within the United States. Currently, the program can only help you solve family law matters and all communications are supposed to go through the client since LLLTs are not allowed to negotiate in a court. Notably, more than 80 percent of U.S. citizens can’t afford an attorney to help solve civil matters, but with this program, this national crisis can ultimately be quelled. Below are reasons why LLLTs are important.

Access to Justice Should not be Limited to High-Income People

About 80 percent of Americans cannot afford an attorney fee since they receive low wages and have huge expense requirements. Due to the low income, most people carry huge debts which they use to commensurate with their meager earnings hence any unplanned expense will prove difficult to handle. Markedly, a typical family attorney will charge between $250 and $400 for every hour which is almost double of what LLLTs will charge. For example, if it is a four-hour representation, an LLLT will charge approximately $1,500, but an attorney can charge up to $4,000 which is significantly high.

They LLLTs are Perfectly Qualified to handle any Case

An attorney can start serving clients immediately after passing the bar exam which means he or she will have only a few hours of practice. On the other hand, LLLTs will be required to have up to 3,000 hours of practice alongside other rigorous requirements. This means that having an LLLT represent you in your case will be an added advantage since they will have formidable knowledge of your situation.

Helps Family Law Attorneys Broaden their Practice

When you look at the LLLT program from a business point of view, it is an opportunity for you as an attorney to broaden your practice since the target population will be high hence more clients. You can work with these independent technicians whenever there is a matter that needs professional courtroom negotiations which adds you hours of practice.

Evidently, LLLT is a welcome necessity in the current era since it helps the low-income people to access legal representation at a considerate price. Undoubtedly, LLLT will be of unquestionable help to you, whether you are an attorney or a low-income citizen. As such it is paramount to visit The Marshall Project for amazing services.


Whatcom County’s First LLLT, wait…what’s that?

By Jen Petersen, LLLT – Family Law


After years in the making, Washington has licensed nine (9) Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLT – pronounced “triple-L-T”).  Whatcom County is one of only a few counties to have its very own a practicing LLLT, Me.  In November 2015, I became the fourth person to be licensed as an LLLT in Washington.  Many Whatcom County attorneys and legal professionals are familiar with me, and I was fortunate to have their encouragement on my LLLT journey.  For those who don’t know me, I was the paralegal to family law attorney Liz Balas from 2000 until her retirement in 2010; during my years with Liz, I also had the great fortune to work with Penny Henderson and Paula McCandlis.  Since 2008, I have been a paralegal at Shepherd and Abbott, where I continue in that capacity, as well as in my new role as an LLLT in family law.

A little background for those unfamiliar with the LLLT program.  In 2012, the Washington Supreme Court Ordered adoption of APR 28, the Limited Practice Rule for Legal Technicians.  The proposed Rule was initially submitted to the Court in 2008, following a 2003 Civil Legal Needs Study which revealed that in excess of 80 percent of Washingtonians of low to moderate incomes encountered a civil legal issue in which they needed legal assistance, but went without because they did not know how to get or could not afford help.  The purpose of APR 28 is to allow qualified, trained, licensed legal practitioners to provide limited legal assistance in approved practice areas, with the intention of helping to meet the unmet civil legal needs in Washington.  Family law is presently the only approved practice area, however, practice areas under consideration for future approval include elder law, landlord-tenant issues and immigration.

It usually surprises attorneys when they ask me about the process I went through to get licensed.  Under APR 28, one must meet the following requirements: obtain an Associate’s Degree or higher; complete 45 credit hours of core curriculum through an ABA approved legal program; complete the LLLT practice area classes offered through the University of Washington School of Law (a 1 year program including twice weekly 2.5 hour live online interactive lecture classes, plus extensive reading and written homework assignments); complete 3,000 hours of paralegal experience involving substantive legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney (the attorney must submit an declaration re: supervision); pass the full day Legal Technician exam, which covers the practice area and ethics/professional responsibility; and, fulfill all of the other licensing requirements (i.e. be of good moral character, submit an FBI background check, provide proof of malpractice insurance coverage, etc.).  I sat for the September 2015 LLLT exam.  Including myself, 15 applicants sat for the exam, 10 passed (seven of nine examinees passed the first exam in the spring).


So, what is an LLLT permitted to and prohibited from doing?  In a nutshell, an LLLT may assist a pro se party with self-representation, as follows:

  1.   I applied for and was granted a limited time waiver of the education requirement (my Whatcom Community College paralegal program was not ABA approved), after I met additional requirements.  The waiver required passing a national paralegal certification examination and submitting declarations by attorneys who would attest that I had 10 years of substantive law-related experience (thank you Penny, Paula and Doug!)
  2. Important definition: APR 28 B(7): “Substantive law-related work” means work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not necessarily, performed by a lawyer.
  • Obtain relevant facts, and explain the relevancy of such information;
  • Provide information regarding applicable procedures, including deadlines, documents which must be filed, and the anticipated course of the legal proceeding;
  • Provide information regarding applicable procedures for proper service of process and filing of legal documents;
  • Provide self-help materials which contain information regarding relevant legal requirements, case law basis, and venue and jurisdiction requirements;
  • Review and explain documents or exhibits received from a client’s spouse and/or his/her attorney;
  • Select, complete, file, and effect service of forms and advise a client of the significance of the selected forms to their case;
  • Perform legal research;
  • Advise a client as to other documents that may be necessary to their case, and explain how such additional documents or pleadings may affect their case; and,
  • Assist in obtaining necessary documents, such as birth, death, or marriage certificates.


If needed, an LLLT can provide additional services drafting legal letters and documents, if the work is reviewed and approved by a Washington attorney.  For LLLTs in private practice, it will be important to find an attorney willing to team up on issues that are permissible with attorney assistance.

An LLLT may not represent clients in court, they cannot negotiate on behalf of a client, and they cannot attend or participate in taking a deposition.  An LLLT cannot assist a dissolution client if one party is in bankruptcy without the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney.  LLLTs are also prohibited from assisting with disputed major parenting plan modifications, non-parental custody petitions, and relocation actions if they are objected to.  Presently, LLLTs are prohibited from advising or assisting clients regarding the division of real estate, formal business entities or retirement plans that require a supplemental order or QDRO.  To clarify, LLLTs can assist divorce clients who own real estate, but an attorney or LPO will have to prepare any documents necessary to divide or transfer the real estate.  See APR 28 for the complete list of LLLT dos and don’ts.

LLLTs are required to adhere to APR 28 and the LLLT RPCs.  We must complete continuing education credits each year, so unless and/or until seminars are offered specific to LLLTs you will likely begin to run into LLLTs at attorney CLEs.  LLLTs are also required, unlike attorneys, to maintain malpractice insurance coverage and have a signed fee agreement before performing any services for a fee.

LLLTs are frequently being likened to nurse practitioners and certified physician’s assistants in the medical field – a compliment to physicians not a replacement for.  I am hopeful the local legal community will adopt a similar stance on LLLTs and that LLLTs will help cut down on the unauthorized practice of law in our area.  I am excited to be a Limited License Legal Technician, as Washington pioneers the move to allow qualified, trained, licensed legal technicians to engage in the limited practice of law in specific practice areas. I’m happy to discuss the LLLT program and answer any questions you might have, please feel free to contact me at (360)733-3773 or

Legal Tech: A New Avenue to Legal Justice in Washington State

There’s a new option for those in need of legal services in Washington State in the area of family law.  The newly created Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT or “triple-L T”) role was designed to address the need for legal assistance for those who cannot afford a lawyer.     Washington is the first state in the country to offer this level of legal expertise, expanding access to legal assistance for our state’s citizens and making help more attainable.

LLLTs are trained and licensed to offer legal advice and assistance in family law matters, including divorce, child support, paternity, minor parenting plan modifications, and other trying family law issues that leave many people mentally, emotionally, and financially exhausted.  LLLTs are frequently compared to a nurse practitioner in the medical field.  A nurse practitioner can provide many valuable treatments that a registered or licensed practical nurse cannot – and that would be more expensive when rendered by a doctor.   Likewise, a Limited License Legal Technician is an option for those who need legal help that a paralegal is not permitted to provide, and at a lower cost than retaining a lawyer.

A LLLT cannot represent a client in the courtroom or negotiate on a client’s behalf. They can, however, help clients understand their legal options, explain the relevancy of facts, educate them on the legal process and applicable procedures, perform legal research, select and complete legal forms, and review and explain paperwork that is oftentimes voluminous and confusing.

Having taken the lead nationally on the issue of increasing access to legal services to a broader cross-section of the public, Washington State is proud to have become the home of this pioneering new frontier in legal representation.  It is an opportunity for Washington to provide a shining example by making justice a more accessible commodity. To learn more on the topic, please see What is a Legal Technician?

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Jen Petersen, of Shepherd and Abbott, for becoming the first LLLT in Whatcom County and the fourth LLLT to be licensed in Washington State. We’re so proud of your accomplishment.

Well done, Jen!