Most people understand the term Paralegal. When becoming aware that an individual holds the title of Paralegal, one is usually more confident that they are qualified and experienced with legal documents. Paralegals have the education background within a trade school or university that deems them qualified, and Attorneys seek the assistance of Paralegals to help prepare legal documents, file documents, and/or even assist in court hearings. With an educational background, Paralegals gain the knowledge and skill needed to work within a law firm or offer a service to multiple Attorneys.
It came to be discovered that Paralegals can offer a wide range of services, not only to Attorneys, but also to the public. This more cost-effective, time-saving service became a much bigger demand, which led to California’s new regulations on Independent Paralegals. Since January 2000, any Paralegal that does not work directly under an Attorney has to label themselves as “Legal Document Assistance.” This allows the state to assure that anyone who is preparing Legal Documents for the general public meets the qualifications to operate a business in California.
Is there a difference between Paralegals and Legal Document Preparers (LDA)? Yes! There are LDAs who do not hold a Paralegal Degree, but instead, obtained a license due to their level of experience. As a result, clients are sometimes left unsatisfied with the quality of service. It is important that when seeking to have one’s Legal Documents prepared, three questions are asked: Do you hold a Paralegal Degree? Are you Licensed? Are you bonded? It is important when seeking a professional service that the cost of service should not be the main concern (though it should be considered); instead, consider the quality of service that will be provided to you.
What does it mean when you visit Paralegals/LDAs? Most legal document businesses work with Attorneys, which gives clients options as to which route they would like to pursue in their legal matter, whether it’s Attorney representation or just document preparation. In most cases, an LDA can refer you to an Attorney so that you can receive services at a discounted rate.
My goal within our office is to provide the client with options – not every situation is the same. “We are prepared to offer Quality Service that is best for you!”
Ciara Roseborough, AAC Legal Docs