Paula Littlewood, a champion for authorized trade innovation who led the Washington State Bar Association for greater than a decade, died of most cancers Monday.
The 55-year-old mom of two was additionally intently intertwined with the ABA, having served on the ABA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services from 2014 to 2016 and the ABA’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education that issued a final report in 2014.
Littlewood turned the Washington State Bar’s government director in 2007 and was finest recognized for her work in implementing the Limited License Legal Technicians initiative, authorised by the state supreme court docket in 2012. The nonlawyer restricted licensees, often called LLLTs, had been permitted to deal with some authorized duties inside household unit legislation.
Littlewood traveled each nationally and internationally to talk about the LLLT initiative designed to strengthen entry to justice, and different states have since launched or thought-about launching related paraprofessional licensing schemes.
Washington Supreme Court Justice Barbara A. Madsen, who was the court docket’s chief justice when it adopted the restricted license rule, referred to as Littlewood a visionary who was “fully dedicated to her profession and the people we help, the public.”
“There were exciting things happening in the bar—we were opening windows and doors, trying to make justice the focus,” Madsen stated in an announcement Wednesday. “The world is going to be less interesting and emptier without her ideas, insights, energy and kindness.”
Frances Dujon-Reynolds, who served because the Washington bar’s director of human assets for roughly 14 years, wrote in a textual content message Tuesday that Littlewood was “an influencer and leader beyond belief.”
Steve Crossland, Littlewood’s longtime associate and chair of the LLLT board since its inception, typically introduced concerning the LLLT initiative with Littlewood. He stated the 2 would share a saying with one another alongside the strains of, “This generation’s crazy idea is tomorrow’s common sense.”
“It gave us energy,” Crossland wrote in a textual content message Wednesday.
But regardless of the early popularity of the LLLT initiative, the Washington Supreme Court voted earlier this year to sunset the program, citing price considerations and an obvious lack of interest among the many public in changing into LLLTs. The LLLT initiative additionally lost support from the Washington State Bar’s board, a shift that accelerated after Littlewood was pressured out because the affiliation’s government director in 2019.
Nonetheless, Littlewood stated earlier this 12 months that she hoped the LLLT initiative would stay an inspiration to different states contemplating creating related authorized paraprofessional licenses.
“What we’ve always hoped—and what we used to talk to other states about—is that hopefully it shortens their curve to getting up and online with such a license because … at least they’ve got a model to start from,” Littlewood stated throughout an episode of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels Podcast released in July. “We all know when you are writing something, it is easier to edit than to create.”
Even whereas battling pancreatic most cancers, Littlewood discovered different perches from which to advocate for regulatory reform of the authorized trade. She served on the board of Responsive Law and the board of advisers for the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, often called the IAALS.
“Paula represents the best of the legal profession, and the very best of us,” the IAALS said in a blog post. “She was a champion for the profession to live up to its potential, to improve and innovate, and to address the access to justice crisis head on. Paula was instrumental in helping the IAALS chart our path toward reforming legal education and the delivery of legal services.”
Littlewood was additionally a robust proponent of bringing the general public into the discussions about the right way to reform the authorized occupation, noting that attorneys have traditionally been very proof against overhauling how the trade is regulated.
Additionally, she emphasised that the rising unmet authorized wants amongst customers ought to drive the continued regulatory overhaul efforts in a number of states.
“We need to break outside what I call the echo chamber of the profession and really start bringing the consumer and the public to the table to understand what changes could really enhance their ability to access legal services,” Littlewood stated on the Legal Rebels podcast.
“There is time for incremental change, and there is time for bold change,” she added. “I think the time now is for bold change.”