work-stations

How to Become a Legal Document Assistant

Interested in knowing more about what a Legal Document Assistant is? Want to know how to become one in California?

The Basics

A. Why Become an LDA?

  1. Looking for a career change
  2. Access to Justice for self-represented litigants
  3.  Rewarding work that makes a difference
  4. Make money running a successful business

B. Minimum Requirements

  1. Meet Education Requirements (see Bus. Professions Code 6400, et seq.)
  2. Obtain a bond from a bond agency (approx $400 for a 2 year term)
  3. Register with the County clerk where you have your principal place of business

C. Business Essentials

  1. Office Space
  2. Client Management Software
  3. Calendaring
  4. Phone System
  5. Email
  6. Software (form preparation, postage, etc).
  7. Equipment – efac, shredding
  8. Membership in a professional organization

D. Master Your Craft

  1. Read BPC sections 6400, et seq.
  2. Join organizations such as (CALDA) to get guidance on being an LDA
  3. Work with other professionals in your subject area (Attorneys, mediators, other LDAs)
  4. Network with other Legal Document Assistants)

E. Expand your Knowledge with MCLE

  • LDAs are required to take MCLE before renewing their registration every 2 years
  • Proof is a Signed Declaration submitted to the county clerk

 

F. Marketing

  • Business Cards
  • Google “My Business” Page (free!)
  • Advertise – Facebook, Yelp, LinkedIn, Craigslist

G. Want More Info: 

Visit:

CALDA
www.calda.org
office@calda.org

P.O. Box #2751
Granite Bay, CA 95746

Here’s a presentation that I did regarding how to become a Registered Legal Document Assistant in California, as the membership chair for CALDA in May 2020.

 

 

 

Committment

What are you committed to?

I’m committing to being the best version of me. During this coronavirus pandemic, I had the opportunity to take a step back from my business and try to identify what has worked in the past, and what needs improvement. What are you committing to?

Committment

Articles

 

 

Money Doesn’t Fix Money Problems –

ABA’s Consideration of alternatives to high cost attorney fees to increase access to justice

“In November, the ABA published Formal Opinion 484. From the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, the opinion approves of some forms of attorney fee financing, believing that they can help close the access-to-justice gap, defined as those who need but can’t attain legal support.

e and again, the proposed solutions to close the gap—whether loans, technology, professional rule changes, process and business model improvements—are missing the larger point. The access-to-justice gap doesn’t exist because of absence of loans or the lack of technology or the intractable billable hour. It exists—and continues to grow—because the cost of life in America has increased dramatically while wages for most Americans have been stagnant or even falling for decades.”

Read Full Article here:

https://www.abajournal.com/lawscribbler/article/access_to_justice_gap_its_the_economy_stupid

State Bar of CA Hearing

Click here for video:    https://calbar.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=484

 

TASK FORCE MEETING AGENDA

Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS)

Saturday, August 10, 2019

2:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m

The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
Board Room, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

 

Committee Members: Andrew Arruda, Simon Boehme, Tara Burd, Hon. Wendy Chang, Abhijeet Chavan, Jean Clauson, Johann Drolshagen, Margie Estrada, Lori Gonzalez, Bridget Gramme, Andrew Kucera, Joanna Mendoza, Kevin Mohr, Heather Morse, Joyce Raby, Daniel Rice, Allen Rodriguez, Toby Rothschild, Daniel Rubins, Mark Tuft, Joshua Walker.

This is the Notice and Agenda for the Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services’ Public Hearing on the 16 concept options for possible regulatory reforms circulating for public comment.

Additional Task Force information can be obtained at http://www.calbar.ca.gov/AboutUs/BoardofTrustees.aspx.

Please Stand By. Meeting will begin at approximately 2PM.

I. Open Session
A. Public Hearing
1. Introduction
2. Call for Public Comment
II. Closed Session
A. None

Short Break. will resume shortly.

2. Call for Public Comment

Short Break. will resume shortly.Public Hearing Adjourn. Thank you for Watching.

California is Considering New and Improved UPL Rules – Will it Happen?

You know those three little letters that you hear at every paralegal seminar. It causes experienced paralegals to cringe. It makes attorneys nervous. Yes, you guessed it, U.P.L., the all too familiar “Unauthorized Practice of Law,” the rule that states that a paralegal cannot practice law, establish attorney-client relationships, set fees or split fees with attorneys, give legal opinions or advice, or represent a client before a court or agency. Well, the State Bar of California has sought public comments to proposed regulations to create exceptions to allow licensed professionals to provide specified legal advice and services.
In response to a Legal Market Landscape Report commissioned by the State Bar of California, the Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS) has decided to propose new regulatory changes to loosen the current UPL rules in the hopes that it will close the “justice gap,” the gap that exists between those who need legal assistance and the resources (or lack thereof) available to them.
Three of the task force’s 16 proposed regulatory changes and “recommendations for specific exceptions to the current restrictions on the UPL,” include:
• 2.0 – UPL Exception for Individual Legal Service Providers to Provide Specified Legal advice and Services with appropriate regulation

• 2.1 – UPL Exception (with appropriate Regulation) for Entities Composed of Lawyers, Legal Service Providers or a combination of the two, and

The State Bar announced that they were open to receiving public comments regarding the new proposals and that there would be a public hearing on August 10, 2019 at the State Bar of California in San Francisco to discuss same. Shortly after the 60 day public comment period began, the online comments in support and in opposition to the proposed UPL reform options started rolling in. As of August 5, 420 comments were received by over 200 commenters. About 200 of those comments were submitted in opposition to the UPL regulatory proposals, and only about 15 were in favor.
Those in favor stated:
If we are educated enough to give our lawyers advice on the law, and in turn they use our research to inform the client, then under certain circumstances we should be able to deal with the public directly… [C]ontract paralegals bring clients to the attorneys and should be able to share in the proceeds, especially if they are doing all the work. . . This will only allow the attorney and paralegal to build a firm and both parties mutually benefiting. I completely support this agenda!” – Contract Paralegal in CA

It would help keep the flow of cases in the courts because so many people are representing themselves as per pro without basic knowledge of the law or legal abilities to file the proper motions to meet deadlines, which impact their rights to a fair and impartial judicial process.“ – Supporter from San Leandro, CA.

As other states move to allow nonlawyers to provide legal services, it is time for California to move in this direction too. Many Californians are currently denied legal services because they cannot afford to pay [attorneys].” Supporter in CA

In order for law firms to innovate and become more efficient, it is needed [sic]to have skills of different viewpoints in ownership level decisions.” – Law firm in Mountain View, CA

Not everyone was as optimistic about legal service providers practicing law–those in opposition stated:
Non-lawyers do not operate under the same ethical obligations or with any comparable training/education, and as such, are not obligated or qualified to give competent legal advice … an unrestricted non-lawyer giving any kind of erroneous legal advice would undoubtedly harm the public.” – Anonymous commenter from Glendale, CA

“… non lawyers [are] dragging down the practice of law.” – Anonymous worker’s comp attorney in Orange, CA.

This is going to erode the quality of legal services in the state by allowing unlicensed individuals to give legal advice and own law firms. It is going to devalue my license and hurt the public.” – CA Attorney

California is already overrun with too many lawyers, as the state allows non-traditional, non-accredited paths to the profession. As a lawyer, I have invested a significant amount of RESOURCES (financial, time, etc.) to be able to practice my profession and to do so competently. It is a high bar for a reason. I have worked hard to get where I am at. Your suggestion to allow non-lawyers to provide legal advice is wrong for so many reasons. I would like my profession to at least maintain the little bit of respect and dignity it has left here in California. Not to mention, you are cutting into the livelihoods of people who have made the investments. Many of us incurred massive debt to be able to provide legal advice.” – Attorney in San Bernardino County, CA

With non-lawyers investing in and driving the practice model, clients will be all but guaranteed a profit-driven experience with their lawyers, where the handling of their matters will be affected more by the “bottom line” than their best legal interests.” – Lawyer in Oakland, CA

On August 10th, 2019, the time came to give verbal comments. I went to the State Bar of California, it was my first time there. Given that I had read that many people opposed the proposed regulations, I was expecting many attorneys to show up with pitchforks, but to my surprise, just the opposite happened.
Many people at the hearing gave testimony thanking the task force committee for putting the topic on the discussion table. The committee received words of encouragement, and generally many, including attorneys, talking about how they could see this working. I was surprised to see that many of the people who showed up were actually speaking of non-lawyers in a positive way. The State Bar video recorded the hearing.

While it’s still early and we don’t know how this will end, one thing is for sure–if these regulatory proposed changes are approved, it will dramatically change the traditional legal landscape as we’ve known it in a radical way. Stay tuned.

~ Elizabeth Olvera is the former president of the San Francisco Paralegal Association, she is a Paralegal, Registered Legal Document Assistant, and Immigration Consultant at Olvera & Associates, and is proud that she directly impacts her community to gain access to affordable legal assistance.
Links:
Webcast of August 10, 2019 hearing at the State Bar of California

Note: These are the opinions of the author, and not the opinion of any board or association that she is a member or director of.

CALDA’s Newest Board Member – Me!

 

 

Elizabeth Olvera was recently elected as a board member of CALDA and is the Membership Chair. Elizabeth first became a member of CALDA in 2014 as a Legal Document Assistant. Previously Elizabeth was the President of the San Francisco Paralegal Association.
Elizabeth’s legal career began when she received a paralegal certificate from city college and started working at a civil litigation law firm as a file clerk, and eventually working her way up to being the lead trial paralegal. Twelve years later she went to work at the District Attorney’s office, and eventually opening her Legal Document Assistant & Notary business, Olvera & Associates in 2015.

Elizabeth Olvera
CALDA Board Member
Membership Chair
& Legal Document Assistant
eo@elizabetholvera.com
415 985-7080

Potential Consequences For Paralegals Not Meeting Their MCLE Requirements In California/

Since January 1, 2007 paralegals have been required to certify that they have completed a certain number of hours participating in mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) workshops. According to Business and Professions Code section 6450(d), paralegals must complete the following MCLE hours every two years:

  • 4 hours of legal ethics
  • 4 hours of general law or specialized law

Unlike attorneys, paralegals are not required to submit their certifications to the state bar or any other overseeing entity. Paralegals are only required to provide those certifications to their supervising attorney. There is no specific format in which the certifications must be presented to the supervising attorney.

Given the lack of oversight over the paralegal certifications and the strenuous demands of a busy paralegal’s workload, it can become easy for a paralegal to not be in compliance with 6450(d).

There may be consequences for a paralegal who has not met all of their MCLE hours. For example, opposing counsel can dispute paying the firm’s professional fees for a paralegal’s billable time. Given that paralegals perform a majority of the tasks on his certain cases the amount of money that can be discounted from the professional legal fees, due to lack of certification, can be large.

Also, the local rules of certain courts require that fees requested for time billed by a paralegal must be supported by the attorney’s declaration regarding the paralegal’s compliance with Business and Professions Code section 6450.

In addition this issue may also come up if a well informed client disputes the paralegal’s billable time and decides that they don’t want to pay the legal fees.

Furthermore, many job postings looking to hire paralegals, indicate that candidates must be in compliance with Business and Professions Code section 6450, which includes the MCLE requirements of section 6450(d).

But most importantly given the way that the Business and Professions code is written, a paralegal is someone who is in compliance with the requirements of Business and Professions Code section 6450, which include subsection (d), and therefore, if a paralegal has not met the hours requirement, they can’t call themselves a paralegal.

 

Business and Professions Code section 6450(d) states: Every two years . . . a paralegal shall be required to certify completion of four hours of mandatory continuing legal education in legal ethics and four hours of mandatory continuing legal education in either general law or in an area of specialized law. All continuing legal education courses shall meet the requirements of Section 6070. Certification . . . shall be made with the paralegal’s supervising attorney. The paralegal shall be responsible for keeping a record of the paralegal’s certifications.

Although paralegals are only required to do a total of eight hours of MCLE within two years, it is advisable that a paralegal take as many MCLE courses as possible to ensure that they stay current on topics that are relevant in the fields that they practice in.