News Item
Minnesota Supreme Court Issues Order Amending the Rules Governing the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project to Help Increase Legal Representation

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2022

On June 16, 2022, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order promulgating amendments to the Rules governing the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project.  The order follows a public hearing on two recommendations made in an Interim Report and Recommendations to the Minnesota Supreme Court filed in December 2021 by the Standing Committee for the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project. 
The rule change will allow approved legal paraprofessionals who are on the roster to provide advice and representation in some family law cases that involve allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse, and provide advice and representation for petitioners in some order for protection (OFP) and harassment restraining order (HRO) cases. The amendments become effective on October 14, 2022.
In the Interim Report, the Committee made five recommendations and requested an extension of the Pilot. The Supreme Court then opened a comment period and received submissions regarding the recommendations. For the recommendations where there was opposition or concern, the Court heard arguments on May 17, 2022. 
The Court considered the concerns expressed by both sides and noted that the unmet need for legal representation is paramount. The order recognizes that before the pilot project, petitioners were unrepresented in 53 percent of cases, while respondents were without representation in 84 percent of family law proceedings.  In OFP and HRO cases, more than 95 percent of petitioners and respondents are unrepresented. 
As part of the rule change, training or experience will be required for legal paraprofessionals before services can be provided under the pilot program.  The Standing Committee must submit to the Court by September 14, 2022, the training or experience requirements that have been developed in consultation with the Minnesota State Bar Association Family Law Section and its Domestic Abuse Committee, the St. Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Standpoint, and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
About the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project
The Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project permits approved legal paraprofessionals, under the supervision of a Minnesota attorney, to provide legal advice and, in some cases, represent a client in court in two legal areas: landlord-tenant disputes and certain family law disputes. The Pilot, which began in March 2021, is intended to increase access to civil legal representation in case types where one or both parties typically appear without legal representation. The Pilot is currently scheduled to conclude on March 31, 2023.