Legal paraprofessionals can now be licensed in Colorado

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Legal paraprofessionals can now be licensed in Colorado, making this one of five states that give some form of limited license for non-lawyers to practice law.

The new Rule 207 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, approved by the Colorado Supreme Court yesterday (March 27), aims to make legal representation more widely available and more affordable to people in domestic-relations matters like divorce and allocation of parental responsibility.

The rule allows licensed legal paraprofessionals — or LLPs — to complete and file standard pleadings, and represent their clients in mediation. 

They also may accompany their clients to court and answer a court’s factual questions, though they may not present oral argument or examine witnesses in a hearing.

In Fiscal Year 2022, 74 percent of parties involved in Colorado domestic-relations cases such as marriage dissolution and allocation of parental responsibility represented themselves, according to a news release from the Colorado Judicial Department.

“Making it easier for people to secure legal representation in these often difficult matters has been a long-term goal of our commitment to ensuring access to justice for all Coloradans,” said Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright.

“Allowing non-lawyers to provide limited legal representation for people who otherwise couldn’t afford it will not only help those litigants, but it will help the courts efficiently and effectively handle their cases.”

LLPs will have to pass a written exam administered by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, They’ll be subject to character and fitness standards similar to those required of licensed attorneys.

Before taking the exam, applicants must complete 1,500 hours of substantive law-related practical experience, including 500 hours of experience in Colorado family law, within the three years immediately preceding the date of the examination. There are other educational requirements, but the Court approved an exception to the educational requirements for individuals who have worked for three years in family law.

Applicants also will have to pass an ethics class, pass a professional conduct exam, and complete continuing legal education requirements, and they’ll be subject to a complaint and discipline process similar to that of licensed attorneys.

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