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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 169940 Find in a Library
Title: Rethinking Barriers to Legal Practice
Journal: Judicature  Volume:81  Issue:3  Dated:(November-December 1997)  Pages:100-103
Author(s): H M Kritzer
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Specialized training for nonlawyers can prepare them to provide competent legal services in targeted specialized areas; nonlawyer advocates can be regulated and controlled with the same types of mechanisms and protections for clients that are used for the legal profession.
Abstract: Research shows that formal legal training is only one path to the skills and knowledge necessary for competent legal assistance and representation. If legal practice is thought of in terms of specialized areas rather than as general practice, then a person can acquire specialized representational competency, both in terms of the legal substance and the legal process/procedures, through a variety of avenues. Specialized experience and training other than law school can probably be as effective in preparing a person to provide representation in a narrow, specific area. For many contexts, such as unemployment compensation, social security disability, tax appeals, and labor grievance arbitration, the key to effective representation is the combination of three types of expertise: knowledge about the substance of the area, an understanding of the procedures used, and familiarity with the other regular players in the process. The latter comes only with experience, but the substantive and procedural expertise could be imparted through 1-year, specialized training programs for paralegals, legal technicians, and licensed advocates. To provide redress for dissatisfied consumers of nonlawyer legal services, the same mechanisms used to regulate lawyers could be applied. These are institutional controls, in which institutional forums are responsible for detecting and sanctioning misconduct; liability controls, in which disgruntled clients can seek compensation by bringing a claim for professional malpractice; and disciplinary controls, in which independent agencies investigate and prosecute violations of rules of professional conduct.
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Lay representation; Legal aid services; Paralegals
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