Join us for an enlightening discussion with Judge Angela Arkin and Amy Goscha on the evolution and implementation of the Licensed Legal Paraprofessional (LLP) program in Colorado. We explore the day-to-day work of an LLP will be in the field of family law, including their ability to practice law independently of lawyers and represent parties in domestic relations cases.
They discuss the nitty-gritty of LLP licensure, the routes to qualify for the program, and the upcoming LLP bar exam. Judge Arkin shares insights into the ethics and family law classes that will be offered, as well as the types of people interested in becoming LLP's. We also discuss the future of the LLP profession, the expectations for their role in family law cases, and the potential benefits they could bring to the legal field. If you're curious about the future of law practice or considering a career as an LLP, this episode is a must-listen!
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.
To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: THE COMMENTARY AND OPINIONS ON THIS PODCAST IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE OR AREA TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY OF THESE ISSUES.
Hey everyone. I'm Ryan Kalamaya.Amy Goshca:
And I'm Amy Goscha.Ryan Kalamaya:
Welcome to the Divorce at Altittude, a podcast on Colorado family law.Amy Goshca:
Divorce is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me, I know. Besides being an experienced Divorce attorney, I'm also a Divorce client.Ryan Kalamaya:
Whether you or someone considering Divorce or a fellow family law attorney, listen in for weekly tips and insight into topics related to Divorce co-parenting. And separation in Colorado.Amy Goscha:
Good afternoon. Welcome back to another episode of Divorce at Altitude. I'm Amy Goscha, and I have the pleasure of having Judge Arkin with me today. How are you doing, Judge Arkin?Judge Arkin:
Just fine. How areAmy Goscha:
you? Good. Today we'll be talking about the licensed legal paraprofessional program in Colorado. We have a lot of updates and Judge Arkin is here today to update us on where the program sits today.Judge Arkin:
Well, it's very exciting. We had our first meeting about this project just before the pandemic hit Colorado in March of, officially hit Colorado in March of 2020. And it's been pretty steady since then. And we are now at the implementation phase, so literally we are hands on at this point, creating the actual profession. And there are certain pieces of the process that are not within the direct control of the LLP subcommittee of the Colorado Supreme Court Advisory Committee, which is what I chair and Amy, of course, is the vice chair of that committee, but the committee is in charge of actual implementation of this licensure in Colorado. It's a lot of heavy lifting, but it's a lot of detail work at this point.Amy Goscha:
Yes, and for our listeners that it's been a while since we've talked about LLPs, can you explain what this profession of LLP will look like in Colorado?Judge Arkin:
Well, a licensed legal paraprofessional probably looks most like a nurse practitioner in the area of family law. That's sort of the easiest way to explain it. One of the things that's a little bit different is that a nurse practitioner isn't entirely independent. A licensed legal paraprofessional will actually be able to practice law independently of lawyers and represent parties in domestic relations cases independent of lawyers. That being said, there are specific limitations as to, it's fair to say, the complexity of the proceedings that they can represent individuals in. And because there are limitations on the complexity, LLPs are certainly encouraged to have relationships with lawyers that they can either work together with or refer their clients to if they are hired in a case that is too complicated for the LLP to handle the entire matter. That being said, An LLP can stay in the case and work with the lawyer on the things that are within their licensure. It's it is like a doctor and a nurse because the nurse doesn't have to get out of the case, doesn't have to stop assisting the patient just because the doctor's in the room. The nurse can continue to do the things that the nurse has specialty and expertise in and augment and supplement what the lawyer is doing and also independently handle those pieces of the care that the nurse practitioner can handle with the doctor only doing those things that the nurse practitioner is not authorized to do. If you're thinking about that model, that's how to conceptualize it.Amy Goscha:
Right, and in Colorado, what areas can an LLP essentially handle inJudge Arkin:
the law? Well, primarily, we're looking at what we call domestic relations, but There are areas of family law that aren't just domestic relations that LLPs can help with. Divorce, child custody, which we call allocation of parental responsibility in Colorado, name changes for children parentage issues, if the parentage issues are part and parcel of a custody case, or a divorce, or a civil, a dissolution of a civil union, so pretty much anything that is related to two people in a legal relationship with one another that is a family relationship, and also relating to children of that relationship. So things like protection orders, child support, and also what we call post decree. So after the initial process to separate the parties, or if it's unmarried folks with a child, things that come up afterwards. So we call it post decree. So after they've initially figured out their agreement regarding custody and child support and those things, if they want to change things, if they want to update things, if they want to ask the court to give them more child support or less child support or more overnights or less overnights with their children, those kinds of things. LLPs can assist with those as well.Amy Goscha:
Right. I think the last time we talked about LLPs was right before the public comment period back in November of, I believe, 2022. And at that point, we had talked a lot about a net marital asset Cap as well as an income cap. Is there a net marital asset cap or an income cap when it comes to what an LLP can deal with in a familyJudge Arkin:
law case? Well, interestingly enough we created that idea in Colorado. Other states had it as sort of part of their rules, but in Colorado, we actually called it a CAP, and we tried to create it so that it could limit what LLPs would be addressing as it relates to complexity of the case. Not only were we the only state that attempted to do that, but the Colorado Supreme Court actually was very uncomfortable with what we came up with in that regard because during the pandemic, everybody's house Significantly increased in value in almost every area of Colorado, and in some areas it increased so much in terms of the equity that it was hard to quantify and it was one of those Issues that made it very clear that having an asset cap for LLPs was going to be very problematic because assets that people own, but particularly a house, which is a pretty common asset that people have, are hard to value and quantify. And so if you hired LLP to assist you in your case and then it was determined that your house was worth too much. The LLP would have to get out of the case and you might have paid the LLP a lot of money at that point in time to help you. And that person could no longer continue to help you. The asset cap issue was sort of thrown out. And what the Supreme Court asked us to do, was go back to the drawing board a little and make a more robust list of things that LLPs could not do, which is something that other states have successfully done. And in Colorado, we just fine tuned the list of things that LLPs would have to say. Well, that's outside my area of licensure. You need to get an attorney to help you with this piece of the case. So our list of things that LLPs can't assist with just got a little longer and a little more specific.Amy Goscha:
Yeah. And when, someone listening to this podcast, when will they be able to effectively hire an LLP? What does the timeJudge Arkin:
frame look like? Well, We hope to have LLPs licensed on or after July 1st, 2024. The L P exam, which we're calling the bar exam for LLPs, will be administered on April 30th, 2024. We hope to have it rated and get these folks sworn in and ready to practice law by July 1st, 2024. That's the target date. Great.Amy Goscha:
And if a pro se party, meaning someone without an attorney or an LLP, hires an LLP, what are the types of I guess, things that an LLP can assist?Judge Arkin:
A client with? Well, an LLP can communicate with the other party or an attorney on the other side or another LLP on the other side of the case. They can help their client, well they can do an intake with their client, they can help the client understand the paperwork, the forms, they can assist their client. In preparing the forms, filing the forms, they will have access to file electronically with the court, just like an attorney. They can represent their client at an initial status conference. They can't question witnesses ever, but they can attend and speak for their client at the initial status conference. They can... Attend hearings and sit with their client, answer questions from the court, and also give the court a statement if the court requests of their client's position and help their client advocate their position in that way. In addition, we're hopeful that LLPs will be very significantly helping folks prepare for, participate in, and resolve their cases in mediation. Good lawyers work with their clients to help families resolve their differences privately within the context of mediation or negotiation. And we are hopeful that LLPs, because they can give people legal advice, will be instrumental in helping people through that process. AndAmy Goscha:
where will potential clients or people going through a family law, divorce or an allocation of parental responsibility matter, where will they find LLPs? Do you anticipate that they'll be working in law firms? Just based off of what we've seen in other states where will these LLPs beJudge Arkin:
working? The vast majority of similar nurse practitioners in the law in other states and a number of states have these now. Not solely in family law, but most of these folks... stay with the law firms they're currently with or create firms with lawyers to practice as LLPs. There are some licensed legal paraprofessionals that we expect will go out and form their own businesses and they are certainly legally entitled to do that. That's probably going to be the minority but it's also likely that those folks will be in the more rural Parts of the state. LOPs, we hope, will also make themselves available virtually so that they can assist clients, even if they're not living in the same town or area. The parties that they're helping and as youAmy Goscha:
know, you had mentioned that the first LLP, quote, unquote, bar exam is April 30th of 2024. Can you explain to our listeners just in general, what are the requirements to even sit for the LLPJudge Arkin:
exam? It's interesting, but we pretty much expect an LLP, a prospective LLP, to have the same prerequisites in terms of their character and fitness as a lawyer. In addition to filling out an application that looks a whole lot like a lawyer's application, they have to jump through all the same hoops that a law student has to jump through to qualify to take the bar exam. All the information about their history and their employment history and their school history and whether or not they've ever violated rules or broken the law or cheated on an exam or anything like that. In addition, we have two tracks. that an LLP can use for qualification. Well, primarily two pathways, I guess, to licensure. There is a third pathway, and I'll talk a little bit about that in a second, but the two pathways pretty much are education plus 1500 hours of experience in the sort of supervised practice of law being generally a paralegal but perhaps also a family court facilitator or Sherlock who has done certain things and has met certain requirements that their 1500 hours of actual hands on experience will assist them in qualifying. 500 of those hours have to have been in Colorado family law. So if someone was a paralegal and they did general practice, at least 500 hours of their practice as a paralegal would have to have been in the area of family law in Colorado. So they would also, for that track, need a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies or an associate's degree in paralegal studies, a bachelor's degree plus a paralegal certificate. They can qualify like foreign lawyers who don't want to jump through the hoops necessary to become a lawyer in the U. S. They would have to show that they were licensed in whatever other jurisdiction outside the U. S. that would be necessary to bring that experience to the United States. So there are very specific requirements, but basically it's a degree that focuses on paralegal type work or legal type work plus 1500 hours. And all of that has to have been, at least the practical aspect of it, has to have been within the last three years. The there is an experiential track for individuals who are very experienced but didn't ever get a paralegal certificate. Many folks know that folks get hired by law firms, and they work there for a particular period of time, and the lawyers refer to them as their legal assistant or their paralegal, and they do essentially paralegal work, but they've never gotten a paralegal certificate or degree. This track is pretty much for these type of folks. It requires 4, 500 hours, of law related practical experience. And 1, 500 hours has to be within the three years preceding the application, and 1, 500 hours has to have been within in Colorado Family Law. Essentially, 4, 500 hours in the last five years At least 1, 500 hours has to have been within the three years prior to application, and as I said, at least 1, 500 hours of Colorado Family Law. These specific requirements, the path requirements are set forth in the application for the LLP bar exam that is online at the OARC website Office of Attorney Regulation Council, LLP website.Amy Goscha:
We have gotten a lot of interest, for this program. Can you explain what type of people are interested in becoming LLPs, and who will be sitting for this first LLP exam?Judge Arkin:
Well, one of the things I can tell you is that if you've ever been disbarred or sanctioned as an attorney, you cannot become an LLP, and that's in Colorado or in any other state. But folks who went to law school but never took a bar exam, folks who work in the courts, folks who work in law firms and want more responsibility, assisting clients, law firms that want to employ people to expand the market and assist more individuals who can't afford lawyers The individuals who are engaged as paralegals in those firms are, many law firms are assisting their staff in seeking this licensure to expand their practice.Amy Goscha:
And then how many times per year will the LLP barJudge Arkin:
exam be held? It's going to be just like the regular bar exam. It'll be twice a year. LLPs also have to take a professionalism course just like lawyers. In fact, the professionalism course was taught Last week, and some prospective LLPs took the class for the first time. that was very exciting.Amy Goscha:
Judge Arkin, can you tell me the status of the professionalism class, and then can you also explain to me what is the status of in the family lawJudge Arkin:
class? The professionalism class is the same class that lawyers take. That is offered by the Office of Attorney Regulation Council, and just a couple of days ago they had a class where the first prospective LLPs took the class, so that was very exciting, but it's the very same class that lawyers are required to take to become licensed in Colorado. It's a seven hour day. There's no exam at the end or anything, but you must attend a class and it's the same professionalism class. The ethics class that LLPs are required to take is a separate class that is ethics just for LLPs, but it too is going to look a lot like ethics for lawyers, but lawyers get ethics classes. in law school. Every law school requires lawyers to take the ethics class before they take the multi state professional responsibility exam, the MPRE. So part of the LLP bar exam will be sort of like a mini MPRE. And the Colorado Supreme Court felt it was very important for LLPs to understand legal ethics since they will be engaged in the practice of law. So the Community College of Denver created An LLP ethics class just to address the rules of professional conduct for LLPs, which is rule 2 of 7, and that class actually started October 2nd, and apparently there's one student who's already finished the class. It is an online self paced class, but one student I guess was very eager and has finished already. But there were 67. Students who signed up for that class. The family law class is not a required class. It's essentially an advanced family law class for individuals who want to make sure that they have the level of knowledge that will be necessary to pass the LLP bar exam. And I will tell you that having sat with and had conversations with paralegals at a recent conference. I know that there are a lot of paralegals who have a lot of really great experience assisting their clients and assisting lawyers in, Preparing cases and that kind of thing, but certain kinds of things that they will need to give legal advice on. Probably they may be less familiar with things like tax law, right? LLPs won't be giving their clients tax law any more than lawyers who aren't Educated well in tax law should be giving their clients tax advice, but they probably will need to know enough of a sketch of what is and isn't relevant for the parties to know when going through a divorce about taxes. Right,Amy Goscha:
being able to issue spot, I think, is really important.Judge Arkin:
The family law class that is being taught at CCDE starting in January will include those kinds of things. And there's a list of core competencies that was posted in 2021, I believe, but we just updated very recently and has been, the updated version is also on the OARC website. It's a 19 page document that includes all the things that could be tested on in the family law exam and was also used as a blueprint for creating The family law class at CCD. YeahAmy Goscha:
this LLP program, it's exciting, so we'll have our first licensed LLPs in the summer of 2024. What, Judge Arkin, what kind of impact do you think LLPs will have? Four people going through family law type matters inJudge Arkin:
Colorado. Many folks anecdotally have said, oh, I wish that resource was available to me. So many people go through their divorce by themselves. They have so many questions. They don't get great answers. FCFs and Sherlock's. can't give legal advice. They can help people, but their bandwidth is limited. Judges, of course, can't give people legal advice. If folks haven't figured out unbundled legal services, or they can't even afford to hire a lawyer to be unbundled. LLPs, we hope, will be a much more cost effective resource available to assist folks at every step of the process. And so many Coloradans have said how helpful it would be for them to have the opportunity to get some Legal help as they go through this complex process.Amy Goscha:
Yes, I agree. It's really cool to see it come to fruition. So thank you again for your work on this program. It's very exciting. And I'm sure we'll have some more update for our listeners. Thank you for joining me today for another episode of Divorce at Altitude.Judge Arkin:
Thank you. I appreciate it.Ryan Kalamaya:
hey everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altittude. 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 Divorce at Altittude dot com. 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. Law or 9 7 0 3 1 5 2 3 6 5. That's aaa.