Tacoma Community College is one of four Washington community colleges to offer a certification that enables paralegals to independently assist clients with family law. The “Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT)” certification is the first of its kind in the United States.
Many low-income Washington residents can’t currently afford lawyers, so the State Supreme Court ordered a program developed to serve them. The result is the LLLT certification program, which launches this year with family law. New specializations will be rolled out in successive years.
“LLLTs are paralegals that are specialized. They can help their clients fill out forms and assist with the process, but there limitations, such as not being able to represent a client in court or negotiating with opposing counsel,” said Jennifer Sorensen, chair of the Paralegal program at TCC.
TCC can offer the courses needed for LLLT certification because its paralegal program is one of the few community college programs accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Highline, Edmonds, and Spokane will also offer LLLT certification.
Currently, TCC paralegal students can obtain an AA degree or a paralegal certificate. Both options put students within easy reach of the LLLT certification; they just need to take one course in Contract Law, which is already offered as an elective for both programs. Students will also take a Family Law class, offered by the University of Washington.
“I get an average of 2-3 calls per week about LLLT from students – they need to come back and get credits, or they want to take the contracts class,” said Sorensen. “I anticipate it’s going to become more, because LLLTs can work independently, open their own practices.”
Sorensen says there’s already a need to ramp up the college’s waitlisted program to serve more students. As the benefits of LLLT certification become more widely known, the demand is likely to become even greater.