Colorado will start issuing licenses to non-lawyer paraprofessionals. These paraprofessionals will be allowed to complete and file standard pleadings, represent clients in mediation, accompany their clients to court and answer a court’s factual questions. But, they may not question witnesses or make oral arguments in court. The new law takes effect July 1.

The paraprofessionals will be required to pass a written, legal exam, pass an ethics class, and submit to a character and fitness review. They will be allowed to perform legal work in divorce and child-custody matters. They will need to complete 1500 hours of practical experience, including 500 hours in Colorado family law. They will be subject to a discipline process similar to that of lawyers.

Other states with limited paraprofessionals include Arizona, Minnesota, Oregon and Utah. The state of Washington had such a program, but ended it. See ABA Bar Journal report here for more information.

Something like this is long overdue. In civil law countries, such as most European countries there are similar entities. Notaries in civil law countries draft contracts and other legal documents. They are paid much less than actual attorneys. Paraprofessionals will fill an important need.