Beware of LDAs Who Are Not Registered & Bonded
LDA stands for Legal Document Assistant formerly known as an Independent Paralegal. Legal Document Assistants must adhere to the Business & Professions Code and must register with the County of their principal place of business. Part of registering with the County the LDA must post a bond in the amount of $25,000.00. Once an LDA is registered with their County, they can provide services to clients in any County in California and do not have to register in each County where they provide service.
Recently, a client came to me after paying $250.00 for services by an "LDA." Unfortunately, this client never received any documents she paid for and the LDA would no longer return her phone calls or email messages. Upon further review, she found out that the LDA was not registered or bonded but was just posing as one on Craigslist.
LDAs are not a new profession, however, a lot of the public is still in the dark about what an LDA is and what they can do. LDAs are an excellent alternative to an attorney and provide a valuable service for consumers who do not need legal advice and who are representing themselves in a legal matter. Many LDAs have been working in the legal field for many years and are at court often so that their experience helps them help their clients with the ins and outs of the court process.
If you are planning on using an LDA for your legal needs, here is a list of things to look for so that you know you are in good hands:
When you contact an LDA, he or she must advise you that they are not an attorney, they cannot represent you in court and they cannot select legal forms for you. This language will also be outlined in your contract if you choose to move forward. It is typically asked if the LDA advised you; and you must check YES and sign.
Any advertising or marketing materials, including the business card of the LDA, must have the LDA's registration number, expiration date and county of registration.
An LDA cannot guarantee any outcome or cannot advise you of what you "should do" in regard to your case.
Be sure that you enter into a contract with the LDA and that they clearly state what services they will be providing to you; the fee and what is included in the fee; and should outline when the payment(s) are due.
Be very careful hiring an LDA from Craigslist - if you do come across an ad on Craigslist do a little research. Most reputable businesses have a website and an active social media presence.
Pay attention to how they answer the phone, how long it takes to return a phone call or email. Most reputable LDAs will return a phone call or email the same day; or within 24 hours. If you are still waiting for a return call 2 days later, you may want to try another.
These are just some tips to help in your search for an LDA who can assist you. If you need help with finding an LDA in your area, you can visit Calda.org or you can contact my office at (925) 336-5711 and I will be happy to assist you in your search.