By Scotti Hill
Who are LPPs and why should law firms hire them?
A little over a year after its inaugural licensing examination, the Utah State Bar’s Licensed Paralegal Practitioner (LPP) program has seen incremental but consistent growth. Beginning with a 2015 task force sponsored by the Utah Supreme Court, the LPP program was implemented as an entirely new legal profession with two predominant goals in mind: to assist the ever-increasing population of self-represented parties in the state of Utah, and to create an independent market for a novel legal professional.
The Utah State Bar, seizing upon early trends of LPP program implementation throughout the nation, began licensing qualified applicants in 2019, and to date has licensed thirteen LPPs. LPPs are authorized to practice law in the following areas: family law, debt collection, and unlawful detainer (evictions) actions. This scope of practice is codified in Judicial Council Code of Judicial Administration Rule 14-802 as an exception to the unauthorized practice of law. LPPs may enter into contractual relationships and represent clients, assist clients in completing relevant pleadings, motions, and applicable forms, and negotiate with opposing counsel on settlement and mediation discussions. An LPP’s scope of practice is limited to forms approved by the Judicial Council.
Like attorneys, licensing for LPPs is contingent upon successfully passing a rigorous licensing exam administered twice yearly by the Bar. Additionally, LPPs are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct and have annual CLE requirements.
With the implementation of legal ‘paraprofessionals’ on the rise nationally, Utah LPPs are pioneering a new form of legal services and representing clients previously unlikely to seek out legal assistance. Most of the current slate of LPPs work for law firms, raising interesting questions about how attorneys and LPPs are working together and how they may forge new and innovative business arrangements. In my survey of firms that currently employ LPPs, two major themes emerged: LPPs make firms more well-rounded in their offerings and thus capture more of the market as a “full-service firm,” and in doing so, have the potential to greatly benefit the public at large.
Capturing more of the market as a ‘full-service’ law...