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.
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.
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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 containg 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 specialize in it and stick to that one area of practice. Everyone is different. Each LDA prepares an motion differently. Is there a page limit on the declaration? Do you including filing? Is service by mail included, etc. ?
Pricing is not set in stone. You can alway raise their prices annually. The average fee is $300 for a Request for Order (Motion) and goes up depending on case complexity.
You can always run a promotion to test the market too.
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
Affording clients the option to apply for monthly payment plans is a great way to ensure affordability and access to legal services. Legal Document Preparers is launching Square Installments as a convenient feature for clients who need a little more time to pay and response timely to pending actions.
The California Secretary of State instructions for the Articles of Organization form state on there that service-based businesses cannot operate via LLC unless there is an affirmative clause in the California Business Professions Code authorizing the subject profession with the ability to do so.
California BPC § 6400 et seq. does not contain authorizing clause for Legal Document Assistants profession to operate via LLC. Therefore, Legal Document Assistants are limited to incorporation or sole proprietorship.
In fact, Paralegals, LDAs, and any profession under CA BPC, cannot form an LLC for their professional services, because CA CORP §17701.04.says:
(e) Nothing in this title shall be construed to permit a domestic or foreign limited liability company to render professional services, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 13401 and in Section 13401.3, in this state.
13401. As used in this part: (a) “Professional services” means any type of professional services that may be lawfully rendered only pursuant to a license, certification, or registration authorized by the Business and Professions Code, the Chiropractic Act, or the Osteopathic Act.
13401.3. As used in this part, “professional services” also means any type of professional services that may be lawfully rendered only pursuant to a license, certification, or registration authorized by the Yacht and Ship Brokers Act (Article 2 (commencing with Section 700) of Chapter 5 of Division 3 of the Harbors and Navigation Code).
That said, many Paralegal Service Provider and a handful of Legal Document Assistants have structure their businesses as LLCs. Whether the LLC limited liability protections will be tested later when invocation become necessary. Would a court pierce the LLC veil? Well… do you feel luck? Well do ya’?
Loving this article! Finally, demand driving creation of non-lawyer legal services! It's time to breaking up lawyer's monopoly on the legal services market.
Clients are demanding [lawyers need to be creative] as other professionals. Use paralegals, legal technicians, and document preparers plus automation to help reduce the costs and create affordable fees. - MARY E. JUETTEN
Read more: https://abovethelaw.com/2019/01/are-some-law-offices-just-like-the-mall
Effective 09/27/2018, Rule 3 4.00.09 Filing through Fax Filing Agency, of the Local Rules for the Superior Court, County of El Dorado, is hereby amended as set forth below:
4.00.09 FILING THROUGH FAX FILING AGENCY
The Superior Court of California, County of El Dorado, accepts [electronic] fax filing in civil, probate, and family law departments by facsimile transmission pursuant to California Rules of Court, rules 2.300 through 2.306.
Documents received by 4:00 p.m. shall be filed with that day’s date. All documents received after 4:00 p.m. are deemed to have occurred on the next business day. The Superior Court of California, County of El Dorado, does not accept direct facsimile filing of documents except as authorized in rule 4.00.08. Refer to the court’s website for online electronic fax filing instructions at www.eldoradocourt.org. (Revised January 1, 2019)
Effective January 1, 2019, Legal Document Assistants (LDAs) and Unlawful Detainer Assistants (UDAs) are required to complete 15 hours of continuing legal education MCLE courses during the two-year period preceding renewal. Legal ethics education is no longer required as part of the the 15 hours MCLE requirement. Business Professions Code §6402 was amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 776, Sec. 2. (AB 3250)
While Bus & Professions Code § 6400, et seq. goes into great detail about the role and responsibilities of an LDA, what it does not tell you is the business aspect of becoming an LDA. Self-Employment is not for everyone.
In addition to the technical portion of the business, there is also a compliance proration such as federal, state, and local business licensing requirements that your business must comply with. Then there is the financial aspect.
Are you ready to prepare financial statements like a Profit & Loss or how about a Balance Sheet? Sure you can contract out the accounting portion, but hiring a professional accountant would increase start up costs and monthly overhead.
Don't forget marketing! Building a lead tunnel for which prospective client to follow so when they get to you they are ready to close the deal! Oh, by the way you'll need client management software, and document drafting software for pleadings which may require thousands of initial investment depending on your business needs.
What will the day to day operations in your business be like? What will clients experience when they interface with your business, i.e. client flow.
Have I scared you off yet? No, good!
Then becoming an LDA may be right for you after all. The best place to start is with building your business is with the support of the Small Business Administration. Having a business plan with 3/5/10 years goals is important. This is the framework your business will follow.
It's really comes down to the entrepreneurial mindset. Look, I know I can be difficult, but you can do it. To help keep me motivated and on track I surround myself with like minded professionals by network with fellow entrepreneurs and listening to podcasts such as Side Hustle Pro.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Business Telephone Service
Professional Business Address/Virtual Office
"[Limited License Legal Technicians] (LLTs) are an important piece of [closing the access to justice gap] and it’s the think[ing] around them, that we have been innovative enough to create a tier that never existed before in the history of law in this country. And there’s probably more jobs, descriptions, opportunities for us to create professionals, preferably regulated, as part of our large profession.
States with Non-Attorney Professionals:
Legal Document Assistants
Unlawful Detainer Assistants
Bankruptcy Petition Preparer
Legal Document Preparers
Certified Legal Document Preparer
More info can be found on the NFPA website, where the association provides a comprehensive list of Paralegal and Non-Lawyer Regulation by State: