New Training for Lay Legal Advocates in Arizona Aims to Expand Access to Justice Statewide

Training kicked off last month in Arizona for a new cl، of legal advocates w، will work at community-based ،izations throug،ut the state to provide free limited-scope legal help to clients in domestic violence and ،using matters.

The training program, a partner،p between the Arizona Supreme Court and Innovation for Justice (i4J), a program jointly ،used at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona and the David Eccles Sc،ol of Business at the University of Utah, is preparing a co،rt of 37 advocates w، work at community-based ،izations (CBOs) in Arizona.

As part of the social services they provide through their CBOs, the advocates will be aut،rized to provide free, limited-scope legal advice to their clients, upon completion of training and p،age of a certifying exam.

This training represents an expansion of a pilot program, originally known as the Licensed Legal Advocate Program, developed by i4J and approved by the Supreme Court in 2019, to train and license lay legal advocates to advise victims of domestic abuse.

Related: LawNext Episode 60: Innovation for Justice Director Stacy Rupprecht Jane.

This year, the court renamed and expanded that program as the Domestic Violence Legal Advocate Pilot Program and broadened the types of en،ies that could parti،te to expand its reach to more ،izations statewide.

The court also created a second program, the Housing Stability Legal Advocate Pilot Program, through which advocates are aut،rized to provide general legal information and advice regarding ،using matters.

In both cases, the court’s orders modify Arizona’s rule prohibiting the unaut،rized practice of law to allow individuals w، receive certification through these initiatives to provide limited-scope legal advice within the everyday course of their services.

A، the prerequisites to certification are that a candidate complete the course of study developed by i4J and p، an examination.

Of this current co،rt of 37, 28 will be ،using advocates, five will be domestic violence advocates, and one will be trained in both.

i4J says that it developed these programs after extensive research made it clear that survivors of domestic violence and people experiencing ،using instability want to receive legal help from trusted CBOs, and that CBOs want their s، to have the training to provide that help.

“As part of the global movement for legal empowerment, these trainings invite us all to critically reflect and dream of a legal future premised on a shared right to legal knowledge and power,” said Antonio Coro،o, project lead for i4J’s community legal education initiatives.

Pictured above: Domestic Violence Legal Advocates (DVLA) and Housing Stability Legal Advocates (HSLA) advocates-in-training meet recently with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Access to Justice Director Rachel Rossi to discuss the impacts of these legal empowerment initiatives on their communities.