Kinds of services that a Legal Document Assistant (LDA) can perform for you:
We can perform the following self-help services for you in connection with a legal matter in which you are representing yourself:
These are the only kinds of services that Legal Document Assistants can perform for you. If you need additional services are needed beyond the scope of services we are able to provide, we can refer you to an attorney.
Kinds of services that an Legal Document Assistants (LDAs) cannot perform for you:
LDAs cannot represent anyone in court, cannot provide advice about legal rights or the law, nor can LDAs select legal forms. Fortunately, Court websites have document packets with most commonly used legal documents free to download. Only an attorney can provide legal advice.
Services are exclusively for Pro Per litigants representing who are themselves in a legal matter and the self-help service relates to that legal matter.
This firm cannot and will not engage in the practice of law.
This means that we cannot give you any kind of advice, explanation, opinion or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, strategies or options that you may have. We cannot give you any advice, explanation, opinion or recommendation regarding selection of forms.
It can be difficult deciphering what legal advice is. Clients regularly ask legal questions not understanding they are putting the LDA in a compromising position.
Questions related to:
Legal Document Assistant (LDA) do not operate any differently than a Paralegal working under the supervision of an Attorney. Both can only render legal services at the specific direction of either the attorney or clients for the LDAs.
Operating an LDA Business is invaluable because of the first-hand experience and practical training on the front lines of pro se litigation. Just like attorneys LDAs too learn through file rejections and amended pleadings. Heck, judges and clerks review our work on a daily basis.
Paralegal and LDA practice practical application of the law and both have a front row seat to the theoretical application of the law whether our clients be attorneys or in pro se litigants.
It may not be common knowledge, but many of my regular clients are in fact attorneys/law firms who have one off family law cases and or who have overflow cases. This is the case for many of my LDA peers. Attorneys who see LDAs as competitors rather than potential business partners shut down revenue opportunities to render competent and affordable legal services.
Working with a Legal Document Assistant (LDA) is a collaborative process. Services are designed for individuals who are representing themselves (In Pro Per), who know what they want and just need the paperwork prepared. LDAs are Bonded & Registered non-attorneys professionals dedicated to serving the public who are seeking self-help support.
What services are included?
Prepared Legal Corp. is a full-service document preparation boutique. Flat fee service includes preparation, copies, assembly, serving the other party by mail, and court filing. Regular updates are provided via email as your case progresses. Professional and efficient legal document preparation and processing assistance at your specific direction.
Will I need an attorney?
Simple cases where parties are in agreement and working cooperatively do not typically need an attorney. Whenever possible, it's best to consult an attorney before taking any legal action. An attorney may become necessary if a dispute arises.
Are you well organized, detail oriented, self directed? Do you enjoys working with the public?
Then becoming an LDA might be right for you.
Do you offer Paralegal services directly to the public? Do you fill out documents for compensation?
If you offer or are contemplating providing document preparation services directly to the public for compensation without the supervision of an attorney, you may be required to register as a Legal Document Assistant, according to California Business & Professions Code § 6400, et seq.
Bus & Professions Code § 6400(c)(1) Any person who “provides, or assists in providing, or offers to provide, or offers to assist in providing, for compensation, any self-help service to a member of the public who is representing himself or herself in a legal matter, or who holds himself or herself out as someone who offers that service or has that authority. This paragraph does not apply to any individual whose assistance consists merely of secretarial or receptionist services."
Making that decision to walk down this career pathway requires more than just adherence to BPC § 6400, et seq., it requires a commitment and a belief in oneself to take on challenges of not only the legal industry, but also working with California courts that are severely underfunded.
Chronic underfunding of the courts unfairly affects members of the public seeking their day in court. Trial courts receive a little more than a penny for every general fund tax dollar, and in the past the judicial branch has had funds swept to support the state budget during times of crisis. Now the courts have an ongoing funding crisis, new laws are added annually, there are more complex cases, but there is no stable funding solution for the judicial branch and the people we all serve. - Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye
Before the judicial branch implemented the Workload-based Allocation and Funding Methodology (2013-14, left) some trial courts were underfunded by as much as 60%. By 2017-18 (right), the new formula had helped equalize funding gaps. SOURCE: The Trial Court Funding Formula, Explained by Merrill Balassone
In the past year, 55 percent of Californians at all income levels experienced at least one civil legal problem in their household, yet nearly 70 percent of them received no legal assistance. Fewer than 1 in 3 Californians sought legal assistance to address their problems. - California Justice Gap Study: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Californians.
The Legal Document Assistant (LDA) profession was bore from community based legal advocacy. In fact, the LDA profession is an innovation in the legal services industry which enhances the delivery of, and access to, legal services. In some communities throughout California LDAs are the only legal resource. Becoming an LDA is privilege which should not be taken lightly. We serve members of the public who aren't able to hire a lawyer, while alleviating the demand on limited court resources. Legal Document Assistants are an affordable non-attorney professional alternative for members of the public facing a legal problems, but can't afford to hire an attorney.
The Justice Gap Study Executive Report also tells us the gap in knowledge is the one of the key issues in access to justice. As an LDA One of the biggest challenges of working with the self-representing litigants, is they do not realize their questions are legal questions which can or should only be answered by an attorney. While we can provide litigants self-help resources or sure the litigant an research the answer themselves, but legal research is a art in of of itself which is a two semester program taught in a paralegal program. This is a systemic civics issue that transcendent socio-economic condition. How does the constitutional right to redress serve the people if they cannot navigate the legal system without paying thousands in attorney fees? Fortunately, the California State Bar is presently working on address this very issues.
The Legal Document Assistant profession, while challenging, can be very rewarding. LDAs close the legal resource gap that often exists in our judicial system. Even if we can't provide legal advice, at minimum we help pro se litigants identify that they have a legal issue. We provide affordable legal services bridging accessibility. Are you ready to become part of the legal justice solution?
The California State Bar Paraprofessional Program Working Group (CPPWG): Why It's Important for LDAs
The California Paraprofessional Program Working Group (CPPWG) is one of the many working groups established pursuant to the ATILS Taskforce (Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services) recommendations (see Final Report and Recommendations).
One of the more notable mandates the ATILS Taskforce was charged with was the review of, "the prohibitions against unauthorized practice of law (UPL) as well as the impact of those prohibitions on access to legal services." This directly impact our profession as LDAs because their findings were to recommend the consideration of implementation of the new paraprofessional licensing program. It was at this juncture where LDAs should have had a voice in the outcome of these recommendations. Instead of the development of a new non-attorney professional, rather the expansion of our current profession as LDAs. But, that ship has long since sailed. The ATILS Taskforce final report was adopted in March 2020.
It is imperative that LDAs are involved in not just the Paraprofessional Working Group, but the other ancillary working groups, subcommittees and taskforces.
Here's a link to the California Paraprofessional Program Working Group
http://www.calbar.ca.gov/About-Us/Who-We-Are/Committees/California-Paraprofessional-Program-Working-Group for more details.
Effective January 1, 2016. BPC §6402. our registration requirement has changed. We are no longer required to register in each count where we perform business.
We can now offer business in ANY county throughout California and are only required to register in the county in which our principal place of business is located, and in which we maintain a branch office.
"A legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall be registered pursuant to this chapter by the county clerk in the county in which their principal place of business is located, and in which they maintain a branch office..."
To date, the Department of Consumer Affairs has yet to update our statutory contract to conform with BPC §6402.
7. As required by law, I have filed a bond or made a cash deposit and have registered as a legal document assistant in each county where I will perform services on your behalf.
7. As required by law, I have filed a bond or made a cash deposit and have registered as a legal document assistant in the county where my principal place of business is located, and in any counties in which this business maintains a branch office.
Notarize your documents anywhere, any time!
Notarizing online will change your life and more importantly how you do business!
I recently started eNotarizing Marital Settlement Agreements with Notary Live. Clients love it, especially with COVID restrictions. The fee is $25 per signature. If both signers are in the same place they can sign during the same session for $30. There is even a feature to have clients pay directly. There are no monthly fees! Nada, Zip, Zilch. The notarized document comes right back to you so there's no tracking down docs from clients.
The major difference is Paralegals can only perform legal services for attorneys whereas a Legal Document Assistant can perform limited self-help legal services for the general public, like yourself.
In the state of California, a "Paralegal" is a legal professional, who is qualified by education, training, or work experience, who performs substantial legal work under the direction and supervision of an attorney.
Legal Document Assistants (LDAs):
Formerly known as "Independent Paralegals," Legal Document Assistants are bonded and registered legal professionals, who are qualified by education, training, or work experience, to provides limited legal services for self-representing litigants. LDAs can provide self-help services at clients' specific direction.
What’s your split? The biggest motivator for going into business for yourself is getting 100% of sales. The flip side is you also take 100% of the risk. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have an attorney by your side along the way?
By investing in a LegalShield Small Business Plan I make calculated business decisions avoiding unnecessary risk. Custom business legal plans starting at $39.00 per month give you access to a huge variety of legal services to help you rest easy knowing you’re protected. Speak to a lawyer as often as you’d like, get contracts & documents reviewed before you sign and much more. Protect and grow your business with a LegalShield Small Business Plan.
Dear Legal Document Preparers community,
Here's the latest news from the Sacramento Superior Court:
As you know, "many court operations have been curtailed and understandably, have adversely impacted the civil legal community.
The Court is developing and are implementing an operational plan that will increased civil, family law and probate operations. It is very important that you check the court’s website for updates and additional orders.
Missed Hearings: Hearings missed during the court closure period (March 20, 2020 through May 15, 2020) will be continued by minute order and posted to the Public Case Access System (https://services.saccourt.ca.gov/PublicCaseAccess/) . The posted minute order will provide new hearings dates, extend temporary orders if applicable, and provide instructions for appearing using Zoom. Continuance dates could be set as early as May 11, 2020.
Missed FCS Return Hearings: Hearings on the return from mediation will be reset, noticed via the Public Case Access System (https://services.saccourt.ca.gov/PublicCaseAccess/) to be heard commencing the week of May 25, 2020.
Missed FCS Mediation Appointments: All mediations missed since the court closure on March 20, 2020, will be rescheduled with notification sent to parties by US Mail, by the anticipated date of May 27, 2020. Mediations conducted via telephone or Zoom could begin as early as May 1, 2020.
FCS 10-Page Input Letters: A designated email address will be contained within the FCS notification sent out to parties.
FCS Mediation Reports: All reports for mediations conducted in early March will be issued by May 11, 2020, and posted on the Public Case Access System (https://services.saccourt.ca.gov/PublicCaseAccess/) .
Retroactive Modification of Support: Child and Spousal support are statutorily retroactive to date of filing. See Judicial Council web link at courts.ca.gov/doc…/2020-04-19-rules-effective-04-20-2020.pdf (http://www.courts.ca.gov/…/2020-04-19-rules-effective-04-20…) .
Probate: Probate Court will accept and process ex parte applications beyond those limited to temporary
conservatorship and guardianship. See Probate Court Closure Mitigation Plan saccourt.ca.gov/…/extended-court-closure-mitigation-planfor… (https://www.saccourt.ca.gov/…/extended-court-closure-mitiga…)
For more details, please visit the Court's COVID-19 website: https://www.saccourt.ca.gov/general/coronavirus.aspx
If you’re looking for more ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, check out the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) website.
Thank you so much for sticking with us!
We look forward to supporting each other during these challenging times.
How best to protect your notary business from vexatious litigants and unscrupulous individuals looking to make a quick buck from our Notary bonds?
What many Notaries do not understand is that the bond only protects the public, not the notary. The bonding agency have to interest in denying claims against our bonds. Afterall, any claims paid out on the notary's behalf can and will be recuperated from the notary. I don’t know about anyone else but I certainly don’t have $25k to burn.
This is why Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O) is SO important. E&O Insurance protects the notary against claims. That said... not all E&O policies are created equal. Read and understanding the arduous clauses written in legalese can be frustrating for anyone.
As a benefit of the LegalShield Small Business Plan members can submit insurance policies to an attorneys specializes in insurance law to review before signing! It also helps that LegalShield offers Trial Defense benefits.
It would be great if LSS counseled Notaries on how to limit liability where bonds and insurance policies may fall short.
Are you struggling to pay your commercial lease? Put your LegalShield Small Business Plan to work for you! Have a lawyer review your commercial lease for a Force Majeure Clause then guide you how to navigate rent negotiations amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
Is your landlord unresponsive? Have a lawyer write a letter on your behalf.
LETTERS & CALLS
DOCUMENTS & CONTRACTS
Enroll for a LegalShield Small Business Plan
Keeping track of the relief rollouts amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) is difficult to say the least. Tracking down the forms needed to apply for relief can be nearly impossible. We've started a webpage dedicated COVID-19 legal resources for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As the situation continues to develop, we continue to upload forms and other resources to the COVID-19 Legal Resource page.
All Legal Document Assistant-Client communications should contain the following:
CA BPC 6408
CA PBC 6408.5
I am not a lawyer. I cannot give legal advice. [YOUR BUSINESS NAME] is not a law firm. I can only provide self-help services at your specific direction.
Amid COVID-19 the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses.
Interest rate on the disaster loans is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for private nonprofit organizations. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years.
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
For more information on SBA disaster assistance:
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak we be providing virtual assistance for the safety of our clients and staff. We will remain open during regular business hours and reachable by phone, text, and email.
We will continue to provide essential legal services necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities and limited emergency matters. This includes:
• Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Restraining Order
• Family Emergency Temporary Restraining Order
• Emergency Family Law Ex Partes
We'll continue to provide virtual assistance; however, filings will be delayed as a result of the Temporary Court Closures.
At the direction of government officials in Sacramento County, our building will comply by operating under reduced hours temporarily beginning this afternoon through at least May 31, 2020. A precise end date has not yet been determined by local government officials.
Stay safe and healthy!
Innovate the document digitizing and organization process using Clio with a click of the ScanSnap button. With the ScanSnap-Clio Launcher integration you can scan documents directly into Clio Matters.
The ScanSnap-Clio Launcher integration cuts down time by eliminating steps in the digitizing and document organization process. Instead of having to go through the eight-step process of scanning the document: scanning, coding, searching for the matter, open the matter, selecting documents tab, uploading the document, then categorize it, now it can be done in three easy steps. After adding Clio Launcher to the ScanSnap Application, just scan the document, select the matter and code it directly into the Clio Matter. ¡Voilà! The document is digitized and organized.
To add Clio Launcher to ScanSnap Manager Application follow steps laid out in the following article:
Don't use ScanSnap? Check this out!
Apple Business Chat
Take a bight out of the big Apple and register your business for Apple Business Chat. Give clients with using Apple products an integrative experience. Clients can easily schedule appointments, and complete purchases with Apple Pay, when and where it’s convenient right from within iMessages.
The best part is it seemly integrates with RingCentral. Try it out for yourself.
This March 2020 will be a year since approval for the creation of a standing Language Access Subcommittee. This subcommittee was established under its Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness to help ensure that any remaining recommendations are implemented after the language access task force sunsets on March 1, according to Blaine Corren's article.
Great news! Legal Document Preparers is glad to offer Clio Connect to clients.
Clio Connect allows our clients access to their files in a secure virtual portal where our they can actively participate and monitor their cases. With Clio Connect clients can:
Here's a brief introduction video on Clio Connect. Enjoy!
Starting January 1, 2020, Judicial Council of California the California Court Interpreter Credential Review Procedures will take effect creating a complaint guidelines for alleging professional misconduct or malfeasance against California certified or registered interpreter.
As of January 1, 2019, Small Claims Court interpreters are no longer exempt from the requirement that they be court certified in the language they interpret. See GOV §68560.5. Interpreters whose compliance status set to expire on December 31, 2019 will be removed from the Judicial Council Master List
The California Courts have developed a Court Interpreters Program become a certified court or registered
California interpreter. Court interpreters play a key role in insure access to justice at trial courts by interpreting for defendants, litigants and witnesses.
Source: https://www.courts.ca.gov/7996.htm; https://www.courts.ca.gov/programs-interpreters.htm; https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/CIP_CRProcedures.pdf
Well... there are a few ways to look at it. You can set your prices based on:
Personally, I do a little of everything. We have lengthy discussions about pricing in chapter meetings. Most LDAs find a niche then specialize in it or stick to one area of practice. Everyone is different. Not all motions are created equally.
Pricing is not set in stone. You can always raise their prices annually. The average fee is $450 for a Request for Order (Motion) and goes up depending on case complexity. You can always run a promotion to test the market too. Test the market then adapt.
The implications of AB 5 are far reaching beyond the intended gig business targets. We’ll see what the new year brings for independent contractors in the legal services industry. California Assembly Bill 5 (2019) took effect January 1, 2020. The bill was introduced by California assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez then was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 18, 2019.
Many California Freelance Paralegals have already felt AB5's impacts. While Lawyers are exempt from Labor Code §2750.3, Paralegals are not. What does this mean? In scenarios where the ABC Test (which is based on Dynamex) would be used to determine whether a Paralegal is an independent contractor or employee instead Borello would be considered which is far more complex.
Both the Borello test and the ABC test assume that the worker is an employee and the hiring entity must prove that the worker is an independent contractor.
Under Borello, no single factor determines whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. So to say doing business as a sole proprietor would be enough to rebut the presumption based on a B2B exemption is not solid enough for me. More importantly, would it be enough for the lawyer you’re hope to contract with.
An inescapable factor considered under Borello is the degree of control and direction required in the Lawyer-Paralegal relationship. BPC §6450 et seq. clearly spelled out, Paralegals perform all services under the direction and supervision of an attorney.
Another factor is whether the work is a regular or integral part of the employer’s [lawyer’s] business, which obviously it is.
Remember, the point of AB5 is to impose an employer-employee relationship. Borello is a “multifactor” test which requires consideration of all potentially relevant facts in the determination whether an exemption exists. No single factor controls.
It is my humble recommendation that LDAs support Freelance Paralegals.
According to Forbes, California Paralegals average salary in 2018 was $61,240. Apparently, California Paralegals earn $6,740 more per year than the national average annual wage of a paralegal at $54,500.
I would say this article doesn't account for factors such as areas of law, size of the first along with other critical demographics. For example, a California Paralegal working in San Francisco for a firm practicing in technology transactions is going to very significantly from that of one in Woodland handling family law.
Read more and decided for yourself.
The State Bar of California Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS) January 8, 2020 - Recommendations Issued for Public Comment Concerning Exceptions to the Unauthorized Practice of Law, including Consideration of Concepts for Regulation.
These are just first round if recommendations. The proposed guidelines have may revisions to come and hurdles to jump the fist of which will be published March of 2020. The ATILS Task Force is open to public comment.
The fact that the new Independent Paralegal category will eliminate LDAs either in direct competition or via osmosis is inevitable. I rather it be the latter. It is my humble opinion that Legal Document Assistants lobby for a grandfather clause for inclusion if and when this new category takes effect.
"In an effort to streamline and stay in alignment with current regulatory frameworks, the task force does not recommend developing a brand new certification program or licensing model but rather to take advantage of an existing educational program; specifically the paralegal...
This recommendation seeks to create an additional category of paralegal called an “Independent Paralegal” who would be authorized to provide [limited] legal services in a specific area or areas of practice in which they are registered without attorney supervision pending compliance with specific educational, experience, ethical and certification requirements.”
ATILS Task Force proposed guidelines are as follows:
An IP would be a paralegal who:
Source: 01/08/2020 B.1. Recommendations Issued for Public Comment Concerning Exceptions to the Unauthorized Practice of Law, including Consideration of Concepts for Regulation http://board.calbar.ca.gov/docs/agendaItem/Public/agendaitem1000025310.pdf