Effective September 1, 2001, the Washington State Supreme Court adopted General Rule 25 (GR25), which establishes the Practice of Law Board (POL Board). The Washington State Bar Association is working with the Supreme Court to implement that rule. One of the first steps is to nominate persons for consideration by the Supreme Court for appointment to the Board. Nominations may be made by the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association and other people and organizations.
GR 25 provides that the purpose of the Board is to:
- promote expanded access to affordable and reliable legal and law-related services
- expand public confidence in the administration of justice
- make recommendations regarding the circumstances under which nonlawyers may be involved in the delivery of certain types of legal and law-related services
- enforce rules prohibiting individual sand organizations from engaging in unauthorized legal and law-related services that post a threat to the general public
- ensure that those engaged in the delivery of legal services in the state of Washington have the requisite skill and competencies necessary to serve the public.
The Board is composed of 13 members, at least four of whom shall be nonlawyers. The Board of Governors believes that it is important that the Board represents the broad public interest in the delivery of legal services. Who those persons should be, and how many of them should be lawyers and how many should be nonlawyers, are issues the Board of Governors is considering in proposing nominations to the Supreme Court. Also, the Board of Governors is concerned that the Practice of Law Board reflect the broad range of diversity of individuals who are part of or who use the legal system.
WSPA's former Spokane Chapter Director and long time member, Jeanne Dawes, was appointed to the initial Board.
The POLB has been considering a so-called Legal Technician Rule as well as possible pilot programs in Elder Law, Family Law, Housing Law and Immigration Law and held a public hearing on this pilot program concept on June 1, 2007.
If this is something that you are interested in, but have not been involved with the issues surrounding the creation of the POL Board, we encourage you to start getting involved as preparation for future nominations. A good starting place is becoming involved with the WSPA leadership. There are lots of ways that members can become involved - just contact your local chapter director, or one of the WSPA officers if you would like more information about WSPA leadership opportunities. If you want to be notified of matters like this regularly, you should join WSPA's Regulation list serve. To do this all you need to do is join the Regulation List Serve.
The POL Board will be around for a long time, and it will be doing important work. Here is your opportunity to help direct the future of your profession.
Non Lawyer Practice Commission Regulations (2006 Draft)
Practice of Law Board Regulations: GR 24 ; GR 25