THE LEGAL CONNECTION NETWORK
Are you well organized, detail oriented, work independently and self directed? Do you enjoy working with the public?
Then becoming an Legal Document Assistant (LDA) might be right for you. This career, like that of Paralegals, requires a willingness to learn, ability to multitask and psychic abilities. The Legal Document Assistant profession is best suited to those who are self-directed and unafraid to work independently.
The first step for anyone considering this profession is to read the LDA Business and Professions code. Then, read it again. If this seem too tedious or like too much work, then this probability isn't the right career for you as researching and synthesizing legal procedures is a daily task. Business Professions Code §6400 - 6415 lays out the LDA educational requisites, registration procedures, conduct of business and prohibited acts.
Next, find and volunteer at a local Legal Aid office. Not only will you obtain practical hands on experience with preparation of documents within your local Court, but also build your with legal professional network. Connections are key! Plus, it doesn't hurt to give back to your community. The legal industry is a tight community. Building a network with other professional LDAs is your best chance of success.
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.
This profession is not a get rich quick scheme even though many have tried and failed. Check out the CalBar UPL Complaints for yourself. The LDA profession is not an attorney service at paralegal prices. The LDA legal practice is limited to document preparation [period] though customers will expect more. Knowing where your LDA service and responsibilities end and where the Self-Representing Litigant's begins is key to operating an LDA business.
Owning and operating a business it tough in and of itself, but the added responsibility of researching and synthesizing legal procedures is not for everyone. Just when you think you've got things figured out there a new update to the rule of court or the court has changed their practices.
There is no LDA training manual and no two LDA business are run the same. There are always those who will sell you a training course or a "Professional Certification" program -which is non-existent in the LDA Business Professions Code by the way-, but at the end of the day if you cannot figure out how to make your business telephone right, engage a client and close the deal what good does that certificate serve you?
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.
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."
"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 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.
Attend our next event LDA Mentorship Hour.
Our mentorship meetings are aimed to get you on the right track to becoming a registered Legal Document Assistant.
Prior to meeting, we ask that you familiarize yourself with CA Business Professions Code § 6400 et seq. and §6450 et seq.
This is the best way to maximize our time together!
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