Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project



The Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project is a statewide two-year pilot project that allows approved Minnesota legal paraprofessionals to represent and advise clients in select housing and family matters with oversight by a licensed Minnesota attorney.
Implementation Committee

Minnesota’s Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project is intended to increase access to civil legal representation in case types where one or both parties typically appear without legal representation. The Minnesota Supreme Court adopted Court Rule amendments on September 29, 2020, which authorize the Pilot Project, effective March 1, 2021 through March 2023. 
 
The Pilot Project permits legal paraprofessionals, under the supervision of a Minnesota licensed attorney, to provide legal advice and, in some cases, represent a client in court in two legal areas: landlord-tenant disputes and family law disputes.

If you are a party in a landlord-tenant dispute or a family law matter and would like to contact a legal paraprofessional to inquire about your legal matter, please visit the Roster tab on this page to find an approved legal paraprofessional near you. The Roster of Approved Legal Paraprofessionals will increase over time, so a legal paraprofessional may not currently be available near your location or for the type of legal assistance you need.

 

Legal paraprofessionals and supervising attorneys must be approved and on the Roster of Approved Legal Paraprofessionals before representing clients, including appearing in Minnesota courts, under the authority of Supervised Practice Rule 12

By submitting an application to the Standing Committee, applicants acknowledge that they have read and understand the requirements set forth in Rule 12, and that they will comply with the requirements after approval.

Applicants also acknowledge that they understand they are participating in the Pilot Project which is expected to end in March 2023. While participating in the Pilot Project, participants will keep records and track information as requested by the Standing Committee for use in the ongoing and final evaluation of the Pilot Project. 

Applications are processed when the application is complete and all required documentation is received. The application form and instructions includes a list of required documentation. Approval notifications are sent by email to the legal paraprofessional and the supervising attorney. 

If you do not understand the information in the application form and instructions, contact the Standing Committee using the form on the Contact Us tab.

Application Form and Instructions
  • The contact information provided on this form will appear on the public Roster of Approved Legal Paraprofessionals. Please provide contact information that you are comfortable having on the Roster.
Attorney Attestation Form
Written Agreement with Supervising Attorney - sample
Certificate of Representation and Parties and Authorization to Appear in Court form

Send completed applications and all required attachments to the Standing Commitee by email to parapropilot@courts.state.mn.us or by U.S. Mail to:
Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project Standing Committee
Attention: Kim Larson
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55155
Legal paraprofessionals and supervising attorneys approved to participate in the Pilot Project are listed on the Roster of Approved Legal Paraprofessionals.

General Pilot Project Questions


What is the Standing Committee?

The Standing Committee, established in November 2020, is responsible for Pilot Project oversight, including review and approval of applications, maintenance of the participant roster, review of and decisions on complaints, and Pilot Project evaluation and reporting. Standing Committee membership is listed on the Standing Committee tab.


How long is the pilot?

The Pilot Project is currently scheduled to end in March 2023.


What happens at the end of the two year pilot?

The Judicial Branch will evaluate the results and experiences of participants in the pilot project to determine if implementing these new legal paraprofessional services will resolve long-term representation disparities in civil case types. For example, the Judicial Branch will be considering the potential for improved meaningful access to justice for formerly self-represented litigants, improved court efficiency, and sustainability of the model, among other considerations.


What other areas (case types) could this project expand?

The Judicial Branch will evaluate the results and experiences of participants in the pilot project to determine if implementing and/or expanding legal paraprofessional services is feasible.


What counties can you apply for?

In family law matters authorized under Supervised Practice Rule 12, legal paraprofessionals may apply to serve in any county in Minnesota.

In housing law matters, legal paraprofessionals may only provide services in district courts that have established a Housing Court or a dedicated calendar for housing disputes, except that paraprofessionals may not appear in Hennepin County’s Housing Court. If you have questions about whether a county qualifies under the rule, you may contact that district court or contact the Standing Committee administering the pilot by sending an email using our contact form.


Why are Hennepin County housing cases not part of the pilot?

The Minnesota Supreme Court promulgated Supervised Practice Rule 12, excluding Hennepin County from the pilot in housing cases.


I am a paraprofessional located outside of Minnesota working with a supervising attorney licensed in Minnesota. Can I participate in the pilot?

Yes.


Is there a fee to be on the roster? 

No.


Will there be some type of license requirement for legal paraprofessionals?

No, not at this time. There is no additional licensure requirement for participation in the pilot beyond the education and work experience requirements under Rule 12.02.


What kind of outreach has been done to educate attorneys about this pilot project and encourage them to participate?

Outreach efforts are ongoing. Refer to the mncourts.gov site for communication updates.
If you or a group you are affiliated with are interested in a presentation, contact the Standing Committee administering the pilot by sending an email using our contact form.


How can the Minnesota Paralegal Association (MPA) help promote/work with this program?

MPA is supportive of the pilot and is providing assistance to the Standing Committee administering the pilot and the court system. MPA is providing support to paralegals interested in participating in the pilot through relevant CLEs, administering the Minnesota Certified Paralegal program, answering questions about the pilot, and providing discussion boards for participants.


Why should a firm consider participating in the pilot?

One of the goals of this project is to provide reasonable fees for less complex housing and family law matters. A firm utilizing a paraprofessional for these services will now have an additional income stream and service available to potential clients who do not have the funds for a full-service attorney. This is an enhancement for law firms who are forward-thinking and wanting to serve a larger section of the population.


What do you mean by “supervise” in actual court proceedings? Does the paraprofessional have to appear in a certain number of cases with the attorney present before appearing entirely solo? Or does the attorney always have to be on site?

Supervision is at the discretion of the supervising attorney based on the paraprofessional's expertise, experience, and the circumstances of the case. The attorney is responsible for appropriate supervision; however, they are not required to appear in court proceedings with the paraprofessional.

 

Application Questions


How do I apply for the Pilot Project?

To apply for the Pilot Project, please complete the application packet and submit it to the Standing Committee via email at parapropilot@courts.state.mn.u,s or via U.S. mail at the address below.
Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project Standing Committee
Attention: Kim Larson
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55155


Can I apply for the pilot if I do not meet the minimum qualifications?

No. Please review Supervised Practice Rule 12 for the requirements to participate in the Pilot Project.


Can I apply for the program if I do not have a supervising attorney?

No. See Supervised Practice Rule 12 and the application form and instructions for more information about application requirements.


What happens after I submit my application?

The Standing Committee will review every application and approve or deny the application. Legal paraprofessional and supervising attorney applicants will receive notification of approval or denial by email. If approved, the applicants’ names and contact information will be added to the Pilot Project Roster. Legal paraprofessionals may begin providing expanded paraprofessional services as established in Supervised Practice Rule 12 once approved and added to the Roster.


Can I appeal if my application is denied?

Yes. The appeal process is included in the denial notice and on the LPPP website.


How long to do you anticipate the application review process to be?

Applications are currently being reviewed on a rolling basis. Generally, most applicants can anticipate a response within a few weeks.


Are there certain things people/applicants should have ready to submit their application?

Refer to the Application Packet Checklist on the last page of the Application Form to ensure all required documentation is included.


Are paraprofessionals required to have a certain number of CLEs or training requirements, as an attorney would?

Paraprofessionals must meet the education requirements to apply for the program. See rule 12.02 Sub. a, Education and Work Experience Requirements.


Do the 10 CLE credits have to be specifically related to housing and family law?

No. See Rule 12.02 Sub. b, Ethics and Continuing Legal Education Requirements.
 

Pilot Project Participation Questions


Are there special requirements for a legal paraprofessional to represent clients in district court?

Yes. For each case, complete and file the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project Certificate of Representation and Parties and Authorization to Appear in Court Form. This will help the Standing Committee and court staff to identify cases that are part of the pilot.

Legal paraprofessionals are also strongly encouraged to bring a copy of their Written Agreement with Supervising Attorney to each court appearance to assist and inform court staff and judicial officers if needed.


If approved for the pilot, as a Legal Paraprofessional, can I eFile using my own account?

No. The eFile system currently requires a Filing Attorney (a Minnesota licensed attorney). Please consult with your supervising attorney and request to be a filer with their eFile account, or request that your supervising attorney create a separate account.

If you are unfamiliar with the eFile and eServe system, please visit the File A Case page for more information and to register for a training session.


Will legal paraprofessionals be able to eFile documents?

Yes. The legal paraprofessionals can eFile documents under their supervising attorney’s bar number. Paraprofessionals may visit the eFile and eServe page for more information.


Are legal paraprofessionals required to eFile documents?

The same eFiling rules apply to a legal paraprofessional as an attorney. Legal paraprofessionals are an extension of the attorney of record.
 

Can I prepare and sign independently any of the documents listed in the Appendix?

There is no need for the supervising attney's signature on the documents listed in the Appendix.


Can I provide services in case types or proceedings that are not included in Supervised Practice Rule 12?

No. Pilot Project participation is limited to the civil case types and proceedings as outlined in the rule. Engaging in unapproved legal areas may result in removal from the Pilot Project.
 

Can I represent landlords in housing cases?

No. Representation in housing cases is only permitted for tenants at this time.


What happens if it is determined that there is a domestic abuse or child abuse allegation in a case, an outstanding Order for Protection, or Domestic Abuse No Contact Order? Can the paraprofessional continue to represent their client?

No. The paraprofessional would not be able to proceed in their representative capacity, and they should inform their supervising attorney as soon as possible.

The paraprofessional and supervising attorney should notify the court immediately if it is discovered during a hearing and ask the court to advise on how to proceed with that hearing. The hearing may need to be rescheduled.

Clients have a right to choose who represents them and need to be offered the opportunity to work with the supervising attorney, represent themselves, or choose a different attorney.


How can clients find and hire me to represent them?

Once approved, legal paraprofessionals and supervising attorneys will be added to the Roster posted on the mncourts.gov website. Individuals can look for Pilot Project participants on the Roster and can see the specific locations and case types in which the participants are offering services.


How do I inform court staff and the judicial officer that I am participating in the Pilot Project?

Make sure that you have filed the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project Certificate of Representation and Parties and Authorization to Appear in Court on each case. In addition, when appearing in court, please identify yourself as a legal paraprofessional who is participating in the Pilot and provide a copy of your Written Agreement with Supervising Attorney if requested.


How will legal paraprofessionals obtain documents from other parties?

Both the legal paraprofessional and the supervising attorney should sign up as service contacts on each case in eFile and eServe (eFS).


How will legal paraprofessionals obtain documents from the court?

The process is staying the same for court-generated notices and documents. The legal paraprofessional should be added as an eFiling service contact to each case. If a notice is generated only for the supervising attorney, the supervising attorney needs to provide a copy to the legal paraprofessional.


Will paraprofessionals be required to follow the same courtroom rules of decorum as an attorney?

Yes. Legal paraprofessionals will need to follow the same rules of candor, including courtroom rules of decorum, as anyone who appears in court. Legal paraprofessionals are required to follow MN Court Rule 2.01 regarding their behavior and ceremony in general and Rule 2.03 Role of Attorneys to model their behavior based on those standards.


Do paraprofessionals need to be employed by a law firm to participate in the pilot?

No. The paraprofessionals may be employed by a law firm or be an independent contractor. In either circumstance, the legal paraprofessional is required to have a supervising attorney.


Will the paraprofessional be subject to discipline?

The Standing Committee has established a complaint process to handle discipline matters.


How will firms manage conflicts?

Firms have an ethical responsibility to identify and manage potential conflicts of interest in client representation, which extends to conflicts affecting the paraprofessional's representation.


Will the Certificate of Representation indicate if the paraprofessional is authorized to appear in court?

Signing and filing the Certificate of Representation indicates the paraprofessional and supervising attorney are authorized to participate in the pilot. Judicial Officers, court staff and others may view the Roster of Approved Legal Paraprofessionals to confirm.


May a judicial officer refuse to allow a paraprofessional to appear?

There is no discretion on the part of the judicial officer to determine whether or not a paraprofessional may appear. If a paraprofessional has been certified and they are on the roster, the paraprofessional is practicing within the rules. See Order.


Is the supervising attorney required to assume representation of the client if the paraprofessional can no longer represent the client?

Yes. The supervising attorney is ultimately responsible for client representation. Further, the attorney should be mindful of this responsibility at the outset of the client relationship and address this possibility in the retainer agreement.

Clients do have a right to choose who represents them and need to be offered the opportunity to work with the supervising attorney, represent themselves, or choose a different attorney.


What questions should the attorney I work for ask our legal malpractice insurance regarding this program?

Supervising attorneys should contact their legal malpractice insurance provider with any questions. Relevant questions may include:
  • Does the policy cover paraprofessionals?
  • Does the policy cover independent contractors?
  • Does including a paraprofessional affect my rate or coverage?
  • Does the policy limit the number of paraprofessionals covered under the policy?

Should client and/or fee agreements be established between the client and the legal paraprofessional or the client and the supervising attorney?

Client and/or fee agreements should be between the client and the supervising attorney. The agreement may include references to the services the legal paraprofessional will provide to the client.
The Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project Standing Committee has established a complaint process and method for individuals to submit complaints about the actions of a legal paraprofessional who is participating in the Pilot Project. See the Roster of Approved Legal Paraprofessionals to confirm a legal paraprofessional is a participant.

Complaints may be made when the action(s) of a legal paraprofessional involve potentially inappropriate behavior toward a client. Some examples of inappropriate behavior may include, but are not limited to:
  • Multiple or significant instances of disrespect or harassment toward the client
  • Neglect or failure to provide competent representation within the goals of the Pilot Project
  • Failure to adequately keep the client informed of relevant aspects of the case
  • Conflict(s) of interest and/or not protecting the best interests of the client
Additional information about the procedures for processing and submitting a complaint are outlined in the Complaint Procedures and Form. 

Send completed complaint forms and all relevant attachments to the Standing Committee by email to parapropilot@courts.state.mn.us or by U.S. Mail to:
Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project Standing Committee
Attention: Kim Larson
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55155
The Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project Standing Committee, established by Court order in November 2020, oversees the Pilot effort and will evaluate its success in meeting the goal of improving access to civil legal services. The following persons have been appointed by Supreme Court Order to serve as members of the Standing Committee for the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project. 
 

Committee Chair

  • Gregory L. Richard, Professor at Winona State University

Committee Members

  • Liz Altmann, Altmann Paralegal Services, LLC
  • Tiffany Doherty-Schooler, Director of Advocacy at Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota
  • Rebecca Hare, Public Health Law Center
  • Honorable Thomas R. Lehmann, Tenth Judicial District Court Judge
  • James J. Long, Maslon LLP
  • Susan J. Mundahl, Mundahl Law, PLLC
  • Maren Schroeder, NFPA Director of Positions & Issues
  • Associate Justice Paul Thissen, Minnesota Supreme Court Liaison
Send an email using our contact form

or contact us by U.S. Mail at:
Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project Standing Committee
Attention: Kim Larson
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55155