News Item
Minnesota Supreme Court Committee Issues Final Report on the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2024

On January 12, the Standing Committee for the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project issued the Final Report and Recommendations to the Minnesota Supreme Court required by the October 2022 Order Amending Rules Governing Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project.  The Supreme Court directed the Standing Committee to provide a final report that includes recommendations and possible refinements.
The Supreme Court authorized the Pilot Project to assess whether allowing qualified and supervised paraprofessionals to provide legal advice and appear in court on a limited number of matters will increase access to justice for Minnesotans.  In order to evaluate the progress of the Pilot Project, an Evaluation Subcommittee was created. The Subcommittee established outcome measures and data sources for the three Pilot goals: to increase litigant representation, improve court efficiency, and promote sustainability.
To date, 33 applicants have been approved to serve. Five are authorized to practice in family law cases involving child abuse or domestic violence, except those involving sexual assault. Four of those five are also authorized to practice in Order for Protection and Harassment Restraining Order cases.
No related complaints were filed during the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project.
Notable data in the report includes:
  • Paraprofessionals handled 2,312 matters throughout the duration of the Pilot Project.
  • 58% of reported matters (1,331 of 2,312) were handled outside of court.
  • Paraprofessionals practiced in 47 counties, covering more than half of Minnesota’s 87 counties.
  • Of the 2,312 reported matters, 1,870 were housing cases (81%) and 442 were family law cases (19%).
The report makes several recommendations to the Supreme Court, including:
  • Making the Pilot Project a permanent Judicial Branch program.
  • Adding eligibility to provide advice and representation in additional case types.
  • Continuing the requirement for attorney supervision for legal paraprofessionals, and current education and work experience requirements.
The Committee concluded that the Pilot Project has had a positive impact and shows that legal paraprofessionals can successfully provide quality services to parties.  The Committee also recognized the many partners who helped launch and evaluate the Pilot.  The pilot project is currently set to expire on March 31, 2024. The full report can be found on the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project webpage.