Legal Document Assistant

CONSUMER NOTICE

                                                                        

Know the difference between a  PARALEGAL and a LEGAL DOCUMENT ASSISTANT (LDA)  

Effective January 1, 2001, Business and Professions Code Section 6400 et seq. redefined "paralegal" to mean  only those who work for and are supervised by attorneys. A "legal document assistant" is authorized under California law to prepare legal documents for consumers. Paralegals may not work independently for consumers.   
     
What can a Paralegal do?  

A paralegal assists an attorney in preparation of  legal documents, gathering facts, performing  research, interviewing witnesses, and other tasks  at the direction of an attorney.  


What can't a Paralegal do?  • 

Cannot set or accept fees for services from a consumer  • Cannot independently prepare documents for consumers  · Cannot represent you in court  · Cannot give you legal advice  ·Cannot work as LDAs unless meeting the  requirements of being bonded and registered.  
 

What can a Legal Document Assistant do? 

 At your direction, LDAs can complete court forms for you. LDAs may file forms with the court and
have them served. LDAs may also supply books and publications authored or approved by attorneys.  


What can't a Legal Document Assistant do?  · 

Cannot represent you in court  · Cannot give you legal advice  · Cannot tell you what information should be inserted in the documents  · Cannot interpret documents  · Cannot select forms.   
     
What you need to know before hiring a Legal Document Assistant:  

Contact the County Clerk or County Recorder for a list of the registered LDAs in your County and confirm the  LDA is registered and bonded. Ask to review the Contract for Services, a document required to be executed by both parties under California State law. If you do not understand your legal rights or need advice on your matter, consult an attorney before you direct the LDA to complete your documents.  


To locate a Legal Document Assistant:  Look in the telephone directory under "Legal Document Assistants" or "Legal Documents & Forms Preparation Services", contact the County Clerk Recorder or check the California Association of Legal Document Assistants online member locator at www.calda.org.  
 

CALDA

Who are Legal Document Assistants? (LDA)

Legal Document Assistants were once commonly known as Independent Paralegals. However, as of January 1st, 2000, only those Paralegals working directly for attorneys may now be referred to as Paralegals. Those formerly known as Independent Paralegals are now officially known as Legal Document Assistants (LDAs). LDAs often have the same educational background as a paralegal and are REQUIRED by law to be registered and bonded in the county in which they have their principal place of business. Please Note:

  • A Legal Document Assistant is NOT a Lawyer.
  • By law, they cannot give you legal advice or represent you in the courts in any matter.
  • If you need to consult with an attorney, your LDA will be able to provide you with a referral.
  • We always suggest that you be sure to ask the LDA you are thinking of retaining if he or she is bonded and registered in their county. This is for your protection. All LDAs listed on our Member Search Engine are registered and bonded by their counties. If a person is acting as an LDA but is not registered and bonded, then they are operating illegally in California. The Bond is for your protection

What does an LDA do?

An LDA is an experienced professional who is authorized to prepare legal documents for a client, but only at the direction of the client. In other words, an LDA is there to assist the “self-help” client handle their own legal matters without the cost of an attorney. Since even the best legal, self-help books can be confusing and overwhelming, your LDA can provide invaluable assistance with routine legal tasks, such as typing and filing the paperwork for uncontested divorces, bankruptcies, wills, and many other types of documents. Again, because an LDA is forbidden to practice law of any sort, they cannot make suggestions as to what the client needs done for a particular matter, or what forms that the client must file with the state or the other party to the action. 

What is the advantage of hiring an LDA?

LDAs provide a low-cost alterative to hiring an attorney for routine paperwork.

  • In many cases, one visit will usually be sufficient for you to be able to handle most matters.
  • LDAs will provide you with top-quality legal typing assistance.