LDA vs Paralegal
What is a Legal Document Assistant (LDA) & how is it different from a Paralegal?
California legislatively created a category of professionals, Legal Document Assistants, that assist with the preparation of legal forms to address the needs of citizens who need access to the courts. They are not allowed to give legal advice and must be registered and bonded. The following background on California's LDA classification is provided:
California enacted the Legal Document Assistants (LDA) on September 30, 1998 when Governor Pete Wilson signed California State Senate Bill SB1418, regulating the legal document preparation profession in the State of California, and creating a new formal title, Legal Document Assistant. California State Senate Bill SB1418.
While many LDAs have paralegal education and experience, in California they are not the same as paralegals. Under California law, a paralegal is prohibited from providing services directly to the consumer. Paralegals may only be employed by an attorney, law firm, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity, and work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney within the scope of that employment. [California Business and Professions Code, Sections 6450-6456; American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals.
Unlike paralegals, LDAs are authorized by law to provide legal document preparation services to consumers, after complying with the registration and bonding requirements. Neither paralegals nor LDAs are permitted to engage in the practice of law.
LDAs are not lawyers and do not offer legal advice, discuss legal strategies, answer questions of a legal nature, select forms for the consumer, or appear in court on the consumer’s behalf. They are professionals, qualified through education, training or work experience, authorized to assist consumers representing themselves in legal matters by preparing and processing the necessary legal documents.
A Legal Document Assistant, as defined by the California Business & Professions Code (Section 6400 (c)) is: "Any person who is otherwise not exempted and 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, or a corporation, partnership, association, or other entity that employs or contracts with any person who is not otherwise exempted who, as part of his or her responsibilities, 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 holds himself or herself out as someone who offers that service or has that authority."
For more information, you can visit the California Association of Legal Document Assistants at the link provided.