The medical profession has long recognized that not every patient needs to see a doctor. Nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, and pharmacists all can expertly – and independently – handle medical issues within their fields. They also can recognize when a doctor is needed.
In contrast, the legal profession has resisted the simple truth that not every legal question needs to be handled by an attorney. In most states, there are no intermediate level professionals to help people who cannot help themselves, but whose problems are not complicated enough to need a lawyer.
In California and Arizona, legal document assistants (LDAs) are licensed by the state to perform document preparation services directly to clients. The state of Washington is developing a system that would allow licensed non-lawyers to perform a broader range of legal services for customers.
Responsive Law supports these innovative programs and other limited-practice licenses. For example, a state could allow social workers to handle certain legal matters in family law either on the basis of their social work license alone or with additional testing requirements. Or states could grant licenses for limited legal practice after one or two years of law school rather than the current three-year requirement..
Click here to read our blog posts on this issue