Second Annual Legal Paraprofessional Summit Showcases Progress and New Initiatives in Evolving Profession

Feb. 28, 2024
Three women laughing and chatting at the LP Summit

This past February, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law hosted the Second Annual Legal Paraprofessional Summit, bringing together a range of Legal Paraprofessionals (LPs), attorneys, judges and more to discuss LP licensure and provide continuing legal education opportunities.

Arizona has been one of a handful of states leading a movement in the past few years for greater access to legal services through development of a new tier of legal service providers, the LP. Three years ago, Arizona authorized licensing for LPs to provide limited legal services, and University of Arizona Law has long been at the forefront of the state’s efforts, with initiatives including the only MLS Graduate LP Certificate and the only Arizona Supreme Court certified BA in Law program in the state providing enrolled students with the option to earn the undergraduate LP certificate introduced in spring 2023. 

The Summit helps connect licensed LPs, aspiring LPs, and other legal professionals in an effort to foster conversation and connections among leaders of LP initiatives in Arizona and across the country. This year’s conference attracted more than 120 attendees, with participants joining both in person in Tucson as well as fully remote from around Arizona, Washington, New Mexico and Utah. Session topics ranged from ethical practice and professionalism to access to justice efforts in action around the state and practice tips specific to different areas of LP practice. 

“We had so many amazing speakers, and they truly did such a wonderful job that attendees struggled to name a favorite subject or speaker,” explained Kristy Clairmont, Legal Paraprofessional program coordinator. “But it was the in-between moments that made the event for me. Seeing people engaging with one another about this new profession is exactly why we hold this event, and that sound was magic to my ears.” 

New this year was an LP panel featuring some of the first individuals to be licensed in the state of Arizona. The group discussed what it was like to navigate the licensing process and shared valuable insight about where they’re working, their day-to-day routines and their court experiences. The discussion spurred continued conversations about things that can be improved including better testing guidance. 

“We hope to build on the panel and expand it in years to come as more LPs are licensed and we hope to highlight different areas that are of most interest to our audience,” said Clairmont.

For prospective program administrators, sessions from the Arizona Administrative Office of the Court as well as a presentation on the "State of LPs Nationally" held valuable information on how to help the programs continue to grow while moving towards consistency of name, scope and licensing requirements. 

The Evolving State of Legal Paraprofessionals 

Six states, including Arizona, Utah and Minnesota, currently provide some kind of licensing for non-lawyer practitioners, and many others are considering such programs. With the growing awareness of LP education and licensure, the Summit provided a forum for sharing best practices and efforts to standardize the profession. 

Capping off the day’s events, Clairmont shared a special announcement that a petition had been filed with the Arizona Supreme Court that would change the name of the provider from “Legal Paraprofessional” to “Legal Practitioner.” The petition is currently open for public comment until May 1. The name change would influence the nomenclature of future programs as well as help to better reflect for consumers the scope of work covered by these highly trained professionals, by more closely aligning with naming conventions in the medical field. LPs have often been compared to the Nurse Practitioner, a tier of medical service providers that has their own scope of practice and license. The name also is more readily translatable for other languages and will likely help consumers understand the new service provider role. 

Plans are already underway for the 2025 LP Summit. Be sure to check the website for updates.