Paraprofessionals will cover a middle ground, doing legal work that may not be profitable for a lawyer, but may also be too complicated for an individual to handle on their own. Amber Labadie said she can work with a typical family law client who doesn’t have complex financial issues but still needs help with a divorce or custody issue.
“A lot of times they (the clients) are quoted $ 5,000, $ 10,000 in fees,” she said. “Because I’m not a lawyer, I can do it inexpensively. “
To date, 21 people have passed the two exams required to apply for a license.
With a 40-year legal career, the newly licensed Labadie, like the others in this first group, qualified to be a legal paraprofessional because of her legal experience, coupled with passing the required exams. To be eligible, applicants had to have spent seven of the past ten years working as a paralegal. Labadie said she was delighted that there is now a stage between a paralegal and a lawyer, similar to what a nurse practitioner is to a doctor.
“I saw it as an opportunity to go further because I can’t as a paralegal – it was as far as I could go,” said Labadie.
New legal paraprofessionals are required to follow the rules of professional conduct of the state Supreme Court. They must undergo continuing education and may be subject to investigation and disciplinary action for violation of the rules like other members of the Bar.