A lot has happened since our episode on the Limited License Paraprofessional’s program (LLP), a program that will authorize paraprofessionals to help solve simple divorce cases. So today, we are joined, once again, by Maha Kamal to update us on the program’s developments. As you may remember, Maha is the founding attorney of the Colorado Family Law Project and is known for offering sliding-scale and unbundled services to help a wide variety of diverse clients.
Tuning in, you’ll hear about the current status of the proposal as well as the process of public comment in relation to it and what this entails. You’ll also learn about how you can submit your feedback on it, how it is likely to progress from here, and insight into the timeframe of when we can expect to see licensed LLPs in Colorado. Maha sheds light on some of the feedback she has received from lawyers, judges, magistrates, and the public. Listen in to hear more about the implementation of the LLP program and how you can help affect change.
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What is Divorce at Altitude?
Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado.
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Ryan Kalamaya (4s):
I'm Ryan Kalamaya
Amy Goscha (6s):
And I am Amy. Gosha
Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to the divorce at altitude, a podcast on Colorado family law.
Amy Goscha (13s):
The force is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me. I know besides being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a divorce client,
Ryan Kalamaya (21s):
Whether you are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney listening for weekly tips and insight into topics related to divorce co-parenting and separation in Colorado.
Amy Goscha (35s):
Welcome back to another episode of divorce at altitude. I maybe go Gosha and I have the pleasure of having with me today. Maha, how are you doing Maha,
Amy? It's good to talk to you again. How are you? Yeah,
Amy Goscha (48s):
That's great. Can you tell me just, you know, for our listeners, this is obviously a followup to our first podcast episode on the licensed legal paraprofessional program. And a lot has happened since then, but just give our listeners a background who you are, you know, what your law firm does and what the licensed legal paraprofessional program is.
3 (1m 10s):
I am a family law attorney here in Denver. I practice primarily in the Metro Denver area. I've had my law firm, the car at a family law project for gosh, over six years now, time flies, doesn't it. And I do sliding scale and unbundled services. So that's a little bit unique to my law firm. So I try to help a wide variety of diverse clients and the paraprofessionals and legal services program is kind of right up my alley, I suppose, given that I do sliding scale an unbundled services. So it is a limited licensure program that has been introduced and adopted by the Colorado Supreme court. So we're in the process of implementing it right now.
Amy Goscha (1m 48s):
Yeah. So the last time we talked, I mean, you co-chair with me the outreach and education committee, and we were just kind of starting to meet, like what has happened since, you know, months ago with the licensed legal paraprofessional program.
3 (2m 2s):
Yeah. I mean, I want to give a shout out to our education outreach work group. I think they did a fantastic job, engaging all the different people that might be interested in this program. The different groups, interest groups, and their ongoing support and dedication has been really instrumental to our efforts. We did submit our implementation proposal to the advisory committee of the Colorado Supreme court in may of 2021 that advanced up to the Colorado Supreme court. And they have accepted it for public comments right now through September 14th. So we're just getting word out there. We're talking to everybody, including your podcast. The press is very interested in this as well.
3 (2m 44s):
You and I both have done some interviews with the various media outlets. So that's where it's at right now. There is an executive summary. That's part of the implementation proposal in the report. If anybody's interested, then generally what we've recommended is the detailed plan to get this program running.
Amy Goscha (3m 0s):
And when you talk about public comment, just for listeners, that don't really understand that process, what's the deadline, how do they do it? You know, how does that entail? And then how does this progress after public comment?
3 (3m 11s):
Yeah, sure. I'm going to have to go back to my days of law school. When I took administrative procedure act law or the administrative law. I don't know if you have to take that. I don't even know why it was required, but in agency settings, I guess is Carla Supreme court has kind of adopted the same procedure. If they're going to make a major change to the rules, which govern the practice of law or introduce a program that's going to affect the practice of law. Then they have to have a period to get some feedback and make it something that's meaningful and that the lay person can participate in and share their thoughts. So that's the public comment period. That's upright. Now through September 14th, there is I think a detailed procedure that you can check out on their website as to how to submit.
3 (3m 59s):
I know that you could email, I believe that there's other options to submit your feedback and what you think about the program. So if you think it's great, let them know that because they need to know that there's general interest in the program to keep it moving forward. If you think there's areas that we could improve, you can either reach out to one of us to talk about that. And we'd be happy to incorporate your feedback into our efforts, or you could just submit that directly to the Supreme court.
Amy Goscha (4m 24s):
So when is the deadline for the public comment?
3 (4m 27s):
The deadline September 14th, 2022. So it's coming up.
Amy Goscha (4m 32s):
Yeah. The next three weeks or so. So you've been doing a lot of interviews Maha with, you know, various media. Is that correct?
3 (4m 40s):
That's right. Yeah.
Amy Goscha (4m 41s):
So what kind of questions are you getting? And, you know, what's the most interesting?
3 (4m 47s):
I got a lot. I think my favorite interview so far has been with Colorado matters. You know, I have to say good journalists are just very thoughtful and inquisitive. So they ask questions that I hadn't even thought about, but the sorts of questions I'm getting from the media and journalists are, you know, why would somebody want to hire an LLP versus an attorney? What's the cost of an LP. Now I'm trying to move through all the interviews that I've done. I guess what's the purpose of NLP and why do we need it? I think the statistics are getting out there between the 70 to 80% of litigants that are unrepresented in family law courts, but specifically, how could they help judges? That was another question that I got on Colorado matters.
3 (5m 27s):
What's the feedback that you're receiving from the different groups, you know, what are lawyers think about this and how do they feel about it? So those are some of the questions that I've been getting
Ryan Kalamaya (5m 37s):
This episode is brought to you by our law firm. Kalamega Gosha Amy. And I describe our law firm as an innovative and ambitious trial team that pushes the boundaries to discover a new frontier is in family law, personal injuries in criminal defense in Colorado. We currently have offices in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Denver, and Boulder. If you want to find out more, visit our website, calamansi.law. Now back to the show.
Amy Goscha (6m 7s):
Yeah. So just kind of highlight a few of those, you know, I think our listeners would probably want to understand and know what kind of feedback are we getting from lawyer?
3 (6m 16s):
I think it depends on the lawyer that you ask, right? So I think someone like you or I, who work a lot with these sorts of initiatives, what the bar association with the Colorado Supreme court. I know that you've worked with the access to justice commission and I've done work throughout the car to borrow for a pro bono and you know, the appellate program and all that stuff. I think we're very comfortable with this idea of moving this forward for limited licensure, because we understand the clientele that this would target and that these people are not going to hire attorneys. They just can't afford them. Right. So we know that we've experienced it and we interact with these litigants quite often. I think we get pushback from lawyers that don't understand this demographic, or they don't understand these clients and they see it and they feel threatened that this is all peas are going to take jobs to cleanse the cases from them and their work from them.
3 (7m 9s):
When in reality, it's not LP versus lawyer it's LP versus nobody.
Amy Goscha (7m 15s):
I know nothing. Right. But we've done a lot of education to kind of get people in lawyers and understand that.
3 (7m 21s):
Yeah. So great. And also that they can work together too, right? These can compliment the practice of law. And I love using the analogy that they're akin to a nurse practitioner or a physician's assistant. They're not meant to Rob your position as a lawyer or to threaten you in any way. They can't go to trial. For example, they can't do complex legal issues that can address those. So I really want to see them as helping us as partners in crime, which pun intended, I suppose, but partners in law. And I don't think that they're going to come in droves and take over, I mean, the statistics from Utah, for example, in Arizona, I think that they're in the, I think there's 23 licensed LPPs in Newton about 20 in Arizona.
3 (8m 5s):
So we're not seeing thousands of people coming in and taking lawyer jobs or something like that.
Amy Goscha (8m 11s):
Yeah. I know that another question that public has is when can I hire an LLP? Like, what is the timeframe looking like when we're actually going to have a licensed LLP in Colorado?
3 (8m 22s):
Yeah, I get that question a lot too. I mean, we're ambitiously endeavoring to do this by 2024, but again, it depends on the public comments. It depends on how the Supreme court justices who have been incredibly supportive of this initiative. And they're just overall awesome when it comes to access to justice initiatives. I think they're going to need some time to review it. And then the implementation has so many moving pieces to it, right? That there's going to be statutory amendments. There's going to be rules amendments that we have that rules work in group four. We have to develop a bar examination or something similar to a exam ethics exam. So, and also the tech, right? So, you know, registering LPs in the judicial system and the system that you and I use for e-filing is going to take some time.
3 (9m 6s):
So we hope by some time by 20, 24, we can open up applications, but that's a very ambitious estimate. You know, it could take a few more years in that.
Amy Goscha (9m 17s):
Yeah. You know, we've talked, I know in the last podcast episode about the net marital asset cap, what is the area related to, I guess, finances and the income that we're looking for public comment or were we haven't put a number on?
3 (9m 31s):
Yeah, that's a great one. So as you know, being a family lawyer, right. There's two ways really to get into family law. So if you have a case in divorce with either children or no children, and then the other avenue is allocation of parental responsibilities, which is child custody to mouthful, but the custody component, so APR is up for public comment because we haven't come up with a specific amounts, whether it's an income or some sort of threshold for somebody who is not married, but is seeking an LP for just custody. So we had proposed I think a hundred thousand dollars around that figure for anybody who's looking for an LP for, let's say child support, or let's say modification parenting time or something like that, but we have not made any formal proposals.
3 (10m 17s):
So that is also up for public comment. And we would invite anybody particularly those that are facing, you know, a litigation or they have legal cases that are requested only to give us some feedback on what they think.
Amy Goscha (10m 29s):
One question I think, you know, certain people might have is if I hire an LLP, will there be an attorney on the other side, is that type of a scenario going to happen? Or what does that look like?
3 (10m 41s):
I don't think it'll happen very often. I don't like to say never because it's possible that, you know, you start with the case, even if the net marital assets are deemed to be $200,000 or less at the time that the LP gets on the case, but let's say later they discover that, oh, well they had substantial assets that weren't disclosed or, you know, they didn't think were supposed to be disclosed or included at that point. The judge stops in and says, you know, with good cause shown the LP can continue on this case. And so I could see a situation in which the LP is allowed to stay on the case and in a circumstance like that. And then an attorney is on the other side, but either way, it's better to have someone that knows and is familiar with the family legal system than to have somebody who's completely unrepresented.
Amy Goscha (11m 27s):
Yeah. And for someone who hasn't been through like a litigation process, you know, talk to me about like what it's like, you know, with climbing sports and how an LLLP can really help, you know, like they can't go advocate, but what can they do and how would that be helpful?
3 (11m 41s):
Yeah. I mean, I can pull from, from my own experience. So I offer unbundled services, which is a form of their legal services, but I act as a consultant for that client. I'm not attorney of record. I don't file for them. I'm not responsible for deadlines, so on and so forth, but they can come to me as they navigate unrepresented through the legal system. And I will tell you that whenever a hearing gets set, everyone is losing their minds. You know, I had a poor client the other day. She's like, I'm so sick to my stomach, that my hair is falling out. Like it is incredibly anxiety inducing. And for me to even be able to support her an unbundled basis to say, look, this is what you will expect in court.
3 (12m 23s):
This is what you need to file. These are the things you need to focus on. You know, I would love to be in a situation where I can then refer these unbundled clients to an LP who may be able to better help them through the process, keeping in mind that if you have a hearing set, then unfortunately in LP, wouldn't be able to step in because they can't do trials. But, you know, just having somebody there to really hold your hand and proudly, because this is a scary time, like your family's falling apart, or you have something, you know, you want to move on in some way, or you have a kid that you don't have an order for. So, you know, you're already stressed out emotionally and physically, and it would be helpful to have an LP to also guide you through that process because they know what they're doing and just bring some relief to the whole situation.
Amy Goscha (13m 11s):
Yeah. And I think you really highlight, you know, the humanistic part of going through something, you know what I mean? It's like, that's just another reason why, you know, people need help and they need guidance from an LLP. And I really liked the fact that you gave that example of unbundled because there could be a scenario where an LLP could refer a client to you to go to trial. Isn't that correct? You?
3 (13m 35s):
Yeah, I could do limited. I mean, I don't do a whole lot of them it's case by case, but I can do a limited notice. You can do a limited notice and step in for a hearing, which, you know, I had judges appreciate it so much for just counsel to show up for that day. And I know that there's like the Sherlocks program and there's some other permanent orders initiatives in the different counties where volunteer attorneys are coming up to help during the final divorce hearing days or final custody days. But the reality is, is that that's inconsistent and there's not enough of us doing that. And I'm not blaming anybody here. This is not a blame game, but we just don't have the support we need for the demand of, of all of these pro se litigants. So it would be helpful to have LP step in to the extent that they're able to just guide people through this.
3 (14m 17s):
You know, I can't imagine being unrepresented and getting, you know, discovery propounded on me or, you know, sitting through having just given birth to a child and then sitting through an initial status conference and not really understanding what the family court facilitator is saying to me, because I just got discharged from the hospital a week ago and the baby had complications or whatever, you know, I'm just coming up with some scenarios that could compound your ability to represent and Devon LP say, okay, let's do this. Why don't you take some time off? These are, this is the paperwork that you need to fill out like a sworn financial statement and help them finalize that. And that helps everybody on the case that helps the judge that helps you as a client that helps the other side.
Amy Goscha (14m 58s):
So I'm glad that you brought the sworn financial statement up, you know, cause something like a smart financial statement is pretty, or seems rather simplistic in certain situations to fill out. But someone who has never done that before, it could be really complicated and having an LLP be able to assist with that could be really helpful.
3 (15m 17s):
Yeah. I mean, I think also they're going to be pretty simple and sworn financial statements. If we look at the net marital assets on the LP qualifying cases, but you know, even then, you know, you're going to have pensions like a para for example, you're going to have to put that down. You're going to have to come up with an estimated, you know, value of your house and all this other stuff, you know, how do you calculate gross income, which is on the first page of the sworn financial statement. Those are all things that, you know, my paralegal does really well and I rely heavily on her to help my clients, but it would be also great to have an LP that's doing, you know, modification of child support cases that may not bring in a lot of money for law firms, but, you know, an LP could step in and help it at a substantially reduced rate.
Amy Goscha (16m 0s):
I know you've had a lot of conversations with judges, there's judges that are served on our committees and magistrates. What kind of feedback are you getting from judges and magistrates on this program?
3 (16m 11s):
I think the judges and magistrates are excited. I have not heard from anybody, at least the judicial officer that said, oh, this is a terrible idea or anything like that. I have gotten a little bit of pushback because judges do that right as to the implementation of the program. And a lot of judges actually asked about how they were going to consider an LP staying on the case and what the qualifications for that word, that income in a custody case, the APR matter came up with in talks with some judges. But I think generally there's a lot of support in need for this program. And so they're looking forward to it. I think there's going to be a little bit of a learning curve and we do have a judicial working group for that to help train judges and to get the word out there so that they're not entirely surprised if an LP shows up an interest in appearance at a status conference.
Amy Goscha (16m 60s):
Yeah, no, that's great. I mean, I think as our outreach committee, we've been doing a good job and we're getting a lot of good backing and questions. What would you say, you know, like as you talk to people, are you getting a lot of questions that help with considering like things that we should be thinking about?
3 (17m 17s):
No, I get great questions and whether it has to do with insurance and coverage, we're still considering that, you know, lawyers do not have to have malpractice insurance in the state of Colorado. It's not required. So, you know, the question is will LPs have to carry it? I mean, all of those questions are great. I think that some of them we've taken them back, especially the more detailed ones. So I think we got some for military questions in general about military pensions and military cases and how NLP lop would fall into that. So whenever we get something that we haven't discussed, we take it back to the executive committee and discuss which working group as part of the implementation efforts would be best to hear this out and try to incorporate it into its work.
3 (18m 2s):
So we're still open to that. This is an ongoing process. And I, I anticipate also when the program launches that we're going to be revisiting and tweaking, depending on the actual case scenarios that come up for us.
Amy Goscha (18m 19s):
Thank you for all of your work on this program. I just really, really appreciate you. Is there anything that, you know, you'd like to leave the listeners with today before we wrap up?
3 (18m 30s):
Sure. I think I want to give a shout out to Amy as well, because I don't think I could have done any of this without you. And you're just been instrumental and all the things behind the scenes that we can't cram into a podcast episode. So I appreciate you and thank you for all of your work. You know, I just encourage everyone to give their feedback. And before we give feedback, if you have any doubts or something's angry new, or you have any questions, honestly, just reach out to us. I do get questions after I do interviews. I got quite a few after the interview with Anthony is Colorado matters, for example, and I'm happy to sit down and talk and make sure that we're both on the same page, that we both understand how this program works.
3 (19m 11s):
Two quality fears that that practitioners may have, and to keep people excited who are interested in applying to the program. So please feel free to reach out to us and please provide your feedback and submit to that public comment, period.
Amy Goscha (19m 24s):
Yeah. Well, thank you so much more hive. People do have questions or they want to reach out to you. What's the best way that they can reach you.
3 (19m 31s):
They can reach out through my website, Colorado family law, project.com. Just drop me a comment in the contact us form and I'll get back to you.
Amy Goscha (19m 39s):
Great. Well thank you Maha for giving us an update on this exciting program. We really appreciate your time.
3 (19m 45s):
Thanks Amy. Appreciate you.
Ryan Kalamaya (19m 48s):
Hey everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on divorce at altitude. If you found our tips, insight or discussion, helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast for show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode. Visit firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and email@example.com or 9 7 8 3 1 5 2 3 6 5 that's K a L a M a Y a.law.