LACBA Paraprofessional Task Force*
From Erin Joyce, Chair of the LACBA Paraprofessional Task Force:
The first set of subcommittee meetings of the Paraprofessional Working Group convened Friday, July 31, and there is some good news to report. The more practicing attorneys get involved, attend the upcoming Zoom meetings and make the position (which is to protect the public from substandard services by non-attorneys) known, the more likely the Paraprofessional Working Group will not recommend sweeping areas of practice for paralegals.
Here is report from Amanda Moghaddam, who is part of this LACBA Paraprofessional Task Force, which I am chairing, on the Consumer Debt and Finance Subcommittee meeting from Friday:
The panel started with a discussion of 3 primary areas identified by the Justice Gap study relating to consumer debt: unfair lending; creditor collection; and utility cutoffs. They identified the following areas for inclusion in their recommendations for areas where paraprofessionals should be authorized to practice:
- Identity theft
- Unfair/deceptive lending
- Credit repair
- Pay day/short term lending
- Setting aside fines/fees from criminal matters/juvenile matters
- Creditor collection agency harassment
- Car repossession/defect in warranty
- Wage Garnishment
- Utility cutoff
After some discussion from Carolin Shining about her fear that the committee is jumping the gun and failing to consider the reasons why there is a gap (i.e. putting a solution before the cause of the problem), the committee moved forward with voting which of the above should remain part of their continued discussions, and which should be crossed off.
At the end of the day, they voted to continue looking at identity theft (1); unfair/deceptive lending (2); credit repair (3); creditor collection agency harassment (6); car repossession (7) but not “warranty, which has too many legal nuances; wage garnishment (9); and utility cutoff (10). The remaining items were taken off for further discussion. They discussed that anything implicating federal law should not be on the table.
Their next meeting involved experts on the categories that made it through. It was held August 6.
There are multiple subcommittees meeting all month to consider the areas where paraprofessionals will be operating. I urge you all to attend as many as you can and participate in the public comment to protect California consumers.
*Formerly The Future of Lawyering Task Force