All Legal Document Assistant-Client communications should containg 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.
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 specialize in it and stick to that one area of practice. Everyone is different. Each LDA prepares an motion differently. Is there a page limit on the declaration? Do you including filing? Is service by mail included, etc. ?
Pricing is not set in stone. You can alway raise their prices annually. The average fee is $300 for a Request for Order (Motion) and goes up depending on case complexity.
You can always run a promotion to test the market too.
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.
The California Secretary of State instructions for the Articles of Organization form state on there that 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.
California BPC § 6400 et seq. does not contain authorizing clause for Legal Document Assistants profession to operate via LLC. Therefore, Legal Document Assistants are limited to incorporation or sole proprietorship.
In fact, Paralegals, LDAs, and any profession under CA BPC, cannot form an LLC for their professional services, because CA CORP §17701.04.says:
(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 Provider 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. Would a court pierce the LLC veil? Well… do you feel luck? Well do ya’?
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
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 "trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents," stay out of jail while making a difference in my community.