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What is an LLLT?

A limited license legal technician (“LLLT,” “3LT,” or “triple-LT”) is an individual licensed by the State of Washington to perform limited legal services for the public.  Legal technicians are not attorneys, but can provide many of the same services as attorneys, in a limited capacity.  This is similar in manner to how Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners and Physician’s Assistants can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication to patients without physician oversight.  Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington were the first states to offer expanded scope of practice ARNPs in the 1980s.  Not surprisingly, it is again Washington that has become the first state to allow the limited practice of law by non-attorneys and continues to refine the scope of practice for this profession.  Many other states are currently in the process of creating their own non-attorney legal practitioner rules.


Why was the LLLT profession advanced?

The 2012 Washington State Supreme Court order adopted APR 28 to address the gap in “necessary legal and law related services for low and moderate income persons.”  More than three-quarters (76{6cf5a4bf0f61f62b262506a0646531264be256ca32586f0e288608a50be6c120}) of those who have a legal problem do not get the help they need, according to the 2015 Washington State Civil Legal Needs Study Update.

Low- and moderate-income individuals and families are often unable to afford attorneys, whose hourly fees normally fall in the range of $200-400, and higher.  By licensing qualified legal technicians, more people will have access to legal services.  In general, a client can expect a legal technician’s hourly rate to be about 1/3 that of an attorney’s, depending on both the attorney’s and legal technician’s level of experience.  Many legal technicians offer flat-fee services so that clients are able to anticipate and budget for their legal expenses.


What are the licensing requirements for a legal technician?

Most legal technicians formerly have been paralegals.  All must meet rigorous education requirements, must have a minimum amount of experience, must have passed the LLLT Bar Exam administered by the Washington State Bar Association, and must meet annual continuing education requirements.  Legal technicians are members of the State Bar and many are members of their local county bar associations.  Legal technicians can have varying degrees of experience, both in regard to total years in practice and within certain practice areas, so it is wise to “shop around” when considering your options for obtaining such services.


What are the rules and regulations that govern a legal technician’s practice and conduct?

Legal technicians are regulated.  APR 28 – The Limited Practice Rule for Limited License Legal Technicians.

Legal technicians are held to high standards of professional conduct very similar to those of attorneys.  For more information, read the LLLT Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) HERE:

At this time, legal technicians may practice only in the area of family law/domestic relations.

Within the family law practice area, legal technicians are currently permitted to provide services for the following case types:

  • Divorce and Legal Separations
  • Child Support Modifications
  • Minor Parenting Plan Modifications
  • Major Parenting Plans, if agreed
  • Domestic Violence Protection Orders
  • Establishing a Parenting Plan and Child Support for Unmarried Couples
  • Establishing Paternity
  • Notices of Relocation

The Washington State Supreme Court is currently considering additions to the permitted case types (including Nonparental Custody and contested Major Parenting Plan Modifications).


ARP 28(F) defines the legal technician’s scope of practice:

The Limited License Legal Technician shall ascertain whether the issue is within the defined practice area for which the LLLT is licensed. If it is not, the LLLT shall not provide the services required on this issue and shall inform the client that the client should seek the services of a lawyer. If the issue is within the defined practice area, the LLLT may undertake the following:

  1. Obtain relevant facts, and explain the relevancy of such information to the client;
  2. Inform the client of applicable procedures, including deadlines, documents which must be filed, and the anticipated course of the legal proceeding;
  3. Inform the client of applicable procedures for proper service of process and filing of legal documents;
  4. Provide the client with self-help materials prepared by a Washington lawyer or approved by the Board that contain information about relevant legal requirements, case law basis for the client’s claim, and venue and jurisdiction requirements;
  5. Review documents or exhibits that the client has received from the opposing party, and explain them to the client;
  6. Select, complete, file, and effect service of forms that have been approved by the State of Washington, either through a governmental agency or by the Administrative Office of the Courts or the content of which is specified by statute; federal forms; forms prepared by a Washington lawyer; or forms approved by the Board; and advise the client of the significance of the selected forms to the client’s case;
  7. Perform legal research;
  8. Draft legal letters and documents beyond what is permitted in paragraph (6), if the work is reviewed and approved by a Washington lawyer;
  9. Advise a client as to other documents that may be necessary to the client’s case, and explain how such additional documents or pleadings may affect the client’s case;
  10. Assist the client in obtaining necessary documents or records, such as birth, death, or marriage certificates.


What services are legal technicians prohibited from providing?

At this time, legal technicians cannot represent a client court or formal administrative adjudicative proceedings.  That means that a litigant must appear in court on their own behalf.  Legal technicians also may not communicate with third parties on behalf of a client.  Finally, legal technicians cannot attend and participate in depositions.  All of these prohibitions are currently under review by the Washington State Supreme Court, and are expected to be relaxed to an extent.

There are also certain case types for which a legal technician may not provide services.  Those include committed intimate relationship actions that involve the division of property, non-parental custody, and contested major parenting plan modifications and parental relocation actions.  The Washington State Supreme Court is currently reviewing these rules and considering expansion of the scope into some of these case types.

Finally, legal technicians also may not provide services that are beyond the authorized scope of practice.  There are certain issues within cases about which a legal technician may not advise or assist a client, such as division of real estate, division of businesses, bankruptcy proceedings, and parenting cases that involve interstate jurisdiction or the Indian Child Welfare Act.


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