LDA INFORMATION

Table of Contents:

Legal Document Assistant Definition:

Business & Professions Code Section 6400 et seq. (SB 1418)

Independent Paralegals are now referred to as Legal Document Assistants. All LDA’s and UDA’s now have to identify themselves on each document we prepare as well as in other areas such as advertising etc.

Section 6408 of the Business and Professional Code is amended to read:

The registrant’s name, business address, telephone number, registration number, and county of registration shall appear on any solicitation or advertisement, and on any appropriate 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, money orders, and pleadings.

If an applicant has an office in more than one county where the work is performed in that county then they will have to register and provide a copy of the bond.

Furthermore, the basic requirements to be an LDA are:

To be eligible to apply for registration under this chapter as a legal document assistant, the applicant shall possess at least one of the following:

(a) A high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, and either a minimum of two years of law-related experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney, or a minimum of two years experience, prior to January 1, 1999, providing self-help service.
(b) A baccalaureate degree in any field and either a minimum of one year of law-related experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney, or a minimum of one year of experience, prior to January 1, 1999, providing self-help service.
(c) A certificate of completion from a paralegal program that is institutionally accredited but not approved by the American Bar Association, that requires successful completion of a minimum of 24 semester units, or the equivalent, in legal specialization courses.
(d) A certificate of completion from a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association.


California Legal Document Assistant Application Instructions – Miscellaneous Information

A Legal Document Assistant is not the same as an Unlawful Detainer Assistant (UDA).  Each requires an application, registration, and in some counties a separate bond.

A Legal Document Assistant is not the same as a Paralegal. Pursuant to §6401(b) a Paralegal does not have to register as a Legal Document Assistant while acting on behalf of a member of the State Bar.  A Paralegal, acting independently of an attorney, must register as a Legal Document Assistant if performing those services.

No person who has been disbarred or suspended from the practice of law pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with §6100) of Chapter 4 of the Business and Professions Code shall, during the period of any disbarment or suspension, register as a Legal Document Assistant [§6402].

Many of the code sections related to Legal Document Assistants changed on January 1, 2003. One must be careful when reading the codes as to whether you are reading the current or past law.

UPL (Unauthorized Practice of Law) / Ethics

UPL is defined as:

  1. Making false or misleading statements to the consumer concerning the subject matter, legal issues, or self-help service being provided by the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant;
  2. Making any guarantee or promise to a client or prospective client, unless the guarantee or promise is in writing and the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant has a reasonable factual basis for making the guarantee or promise;
  3. Making any statement that the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant can or will obtain favors or has special influence with a court, state, or federal agency;
  4. Providing assistance or advice, which constitutes the unlawful practice of law pursuant to Section 6125, 6126, or 6127;
  5. Engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, including, but not limited to, giving any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms, or strategies.  A legal document assistant shall complete documents only in the manner prescribed by paragraph (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 6400.

We cannot give advice. We cannot give opinions  i.e. the client asks, “what would you do in my situation?”  We cannot answer that question.  The best defense is to tell them that you “do not have an opinion” and could not give it if you did.  That they know their situation better than you do and if they need advice or an opinion, they must contact an attorney.  We cannot select forms;  however, we can provide the client with CALDA brochures and other published materials that explain the procedures and list the forms needed.  We cannot provide them with strategies. If they need a strategy, they must contact an attorney.  After obtaining the information from an attorney, they can come back to a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant to prepare the paperwork.