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.
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!
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
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
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)
"[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:
Are you well organized, detail oriented, self-directed? Do you enjoys working with the public? Eh... me neither but that didn't stop me from becoming an LDA and I love it! If you enjoy preparing documents and you're good at it, this might be right for you. Being comfortable with the unknown and having the skill to research it really helps. There are many challenges that come with running a business. Being a trained legal researcher, as many of us Paralegals are, helps.
On a more serious note, are offering "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.
HERE IS WHAT THE LAW SAYS:
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 section 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. This challenge, however can be very rewarding. Legal Document Assistants close the legal resource gap that often exists in our judicial system.
The Legal Document Assistant 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.
Legal Document Assistants (LDAs) are required to include their registration information on any solicitation or advertisement, and on any printed papers or documents prepared or used by the LDA. This includes contracts, letterhead, business cards, correspondence, documents, forms, claims, petitions, checks, receipts, and pleadings.
THE LDA STAMP SHOULD INCLUDE:
Effective January 1, 2016, The LDA registration expiration date is only required on on the written contract, as well as on any Internet Web site maintained by the registrant, and in any solicitation, advertisement, document, or correspondence prepared or used by the LDA in electronic form.
The idea behind limiting the LDA registration expiration date to electronic forms, aside from reducing the cost of printing, it also eliminates waste. Every two years LDAs had to print new business cards or other pre-printed materials and had to purchase a new LDA Stamp. Removing the registration expiration requirement from printed materials is better business not only for the LDA, but also the environment.
HERE IS WHAT THE LAW SAYS:
Bus & Professions Code §6408 The registrant’s name, business address, telephone number, registration number, and county of registration shall appear in any solicitation or advertisement, and on any printed papers or documents prepared or used by the registrant, including, but not limited to, contracts, letterhead, business cards, correspondence, documents, forms, claims, petitions, checks, receipts, and pleadings.
The registrant’s name, business address, telephone number, registration number, expiration date of the registration, and county of registration shall appear on the written contract required to be provided to a client pursuant to Section 6410, as well as on any Internet Web site maintained by the registrant, and in any solicitation, advertisement, document, or correspondence prepared or used by the registrant in electronic form.