New legal advocates can make representation more affordable for Arizonans

New legal paraprofessionals make representation more accessible
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 9:52 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Hiring an attorney can be costly and even unattainable for some people. A new type of advocate, legal paraprofessionals, are helping make legal representation more affordable.

A legal paraprofessional, or LP, can offer legal help for low level crimes, evictions and family law. Arizona is the first state to have this type of license. University of Arizona law professor, Linus Kafka, compares it to someone becoming a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor.

“They can prescribe medicine but there’s a limited scope of practice,” Kafka said. “They can handle a lot of the garden variety of things people need.”

Having a smaller scope of practice and fewer years of education than an attorney makes an LP less expensive to hire.

“A lawyer might charge anywhere from $300 to $700 an hour while an LP might charge $200 per hour,” said Chelsea Woodworth, a legal paraprofessional.

Woodworth is one of the first licensed LPs in the state.

Keith Swisher, a College of Law Professor at the University of Arizona, said there’s 10 licensed LPs in the state so far. Woodworth’s prior experience working as a paralegal qualified her to take the test.

“I always wanted to go to law school but it was very expensive and just seemed out of my reach so I just jumped in the field, and I have a lot of experience and energy I put into it. Now it’s making my dreams come true I guess you could say,” Woodworth said.

People can also qualify through education such as getting a bachelors degree in law. Swisher said the UA is the only school in the country to offer a B.A. in Law which works great with the LP program.

Rafael Camacho has a master’s degree in legal studies and is aspiring to become an LP in the near future. Having grown up along the border and being a son of immigrants, he said he’s passionate about helping underserved communities.

“To empower low wage immigrants and migrants to advocate for their legal rights and serve as a resource,” Camacho said.

Learn more about the LP program, here.

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