Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

ALM Task Force comes to a close

At its April meeting the MSBA Assembly heard from Ken White and Susan Weins, co-chairs of the Alternative Legal Models Task Force. The task force presented two recommendations: 1) that the MSBA adopt the British Columbia model where specifically trained or experienced paralegals may be provided additional responsibilities, to serve clients at a reduced cost; and 2) that the MSBA refine a proposal to be submitted to the court for the creation of a limited license legal technician (LLLT)-type practitioner to expand access to legal assistance, particularly for low and modest income clients across the state with a focus in rural areas.

A motion was made and seconded that the MSBA adopt the designated paralegal model. Extensive debate followed, with supporters pointing out the need to act proactively to increase access to justice, and adding that the proposal was simply a limited expansion of tasks a paralegal could undertake with the approval of an attorney and under an attorney’s supervision. Opponents argued it might take work away from newer attorneys who are struggling, and that there are other ways the MSBA could meet the access to justice need. In the end, the recommendation was not adopted. Because no one moved adoption of the LLLT proposal, there was no discussion of this recommendation at the Assembly. This was a disappointment to many who served on the task force. MSBA President Robin Wolpert acknowledged the difficult charge the task force addressed, thanked members for their efforts, and complimented the extensive research and thought that went into the report.

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