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.
AB5 Impact on Paralegal Services
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.
New and existing Legal Document Assistant (LDA) business owners ask which entity their business should be. According to the California Secretary of State Articles of Organization Form instructions 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.
No such clause exists under the LDA Business Professions Code (see BPC § 6400 et seq.) Because the BPC does not contain authorizing clause for the LDA profession to operate via LLC therefore, LDAs are limited to incorporation or sole proprietorship.
In fact, professional service providers such as Independent Paralegals, LDAs cannot form an LLC. According to CA CORP §17701.04.:
(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 Providers 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 is unknown. Would a court pierce the LLC veil you asked? 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
El Dorado Superior Court: Electronic Fax Filing - Administrative Order Re: Local Rule 4.00.09
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:
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.
Author: Angela Grijalva
Just another entrepreneur "Tryin' to make a dollar out of fifteen cent," and making a difference.