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:
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.
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.
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
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
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.