In late 2014, the Bar created a Commission on the Future of Legal Services in Utah to evaluate issues resulting from developments in technology and globalization, as well as changes in demographics and economics. The Commission gathered input, studied, and consider the ways current and future lawyers can provide legal and law-related services to the public, especially to individuals and small businesses.
As the Commission was finishing its task, the Bar asked the Utah Supreme Court to consider alternatives for non-lawyer practitioners, and a Court task force examined a market-based, supply-side solution to the unmet needs of litigants. The Court has approved the task force’s recommendations and created a steering committee to work on an implementation plan for Licensed Paralegal Practitioners who will be able to offer discrete legal services in three practice areas:
- temporary separation, divorce, paternity, cohabitant abuse and civil stalking, custody and support, and name change;
- residential eviction; and
- debt collection.
A paralegal practitioner will be able to:
- establish a contractual relationship with a client who is not represented by a lawyer;
- conduct client interviews to understand the client’s objectives and to obtain facts relevant to achieving that objective;
- complete court-approved forms on the client’s behalf;
- advise which form to use; advise how to complete the form; sign, file and complete service of the form; obtain, explain and file any necessary supporting documents; and advise the client about the anticipated course of proceedings by which the court will resolve the matter;
- represent a client in mediated negotiations;
- prepare a written settlement agreement in conformity with the mediated agreement; and
- advise a client about how a court order affects the client’s rights and obligations.
The authority recommended for a Utah paralegal practitioner has four focal points:
- engaging the client and determining the client’s objectives;
- preparing the court-approved forms necessary to present the
- client’s case; helping the client understand the other party’s documents; and
- helping the client understand the court’s order.
Court Taskforce Report:
Court Steering Committee:
Bar Journal Article:
ABA Journal Article: