New Hampshire Legal Assistance

Helping to balance the scales of justice for everyone since 1971.

NHLA Executive Director Sarah Mattson Dustin delivers keynote address at Paralegal Association of New Hampshire annual meeting

Posted Oct 11, 2022

In a keynote address at the Paralegal Association of New Hampshire's annual meeting, NHLA Executive Director Sarah Mattson Dustin spoke about a new pilot program that will allow paralegals to provide more direct services to Granite Staters in need.

"In most states, including New Hampshire, there is less than one civil legal aid attorney for every 10,000 people with low income," Mattson Dustin said. "The impacts of this attorney shortage are profound. In the majority of family law cases, both parties represent themselves. Upwards of 90 percent of tenants facing evictions are going it alone.

We have to find new ways of getting civil legal services to people who need them. Expanding the work that paralegals are authorized to do is a big part of the solution."

The program, approved during the last state legislative session, is available exclusively to clients who earn up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level (e.g., $40,770 for a one-person household, $54,930 for a two-person household).

Participating paralegals must hold either a bachelor’s degree in any field or an associate degree in a law-related field, as well as at least two years of work experience in a law-related setting. They must also act under the supervision of an active attorney.

The first phase of the pilot program takes effect January 1, 2023, and allows paralegals to assist qualifying clients in family and landlord/tenant matters with case preparation tasks (such as drafting pleadings, parenting plans, protection orders, and financial affidavits). The second phase, which begins January 1, 2025, permits paralegals to provide what is being referred to as “paraprofessional representation” in family and district courts in Manchester, Berlin, and Franklin.