What is an LDA?
An LDA, or Legal Document Assistant, used to be known as an “independent paralegal”. In the last decade there has been some laws that state a distinction between a paralegal and an LDA. A paralegal is now defined as a trained person that assists lawyers, and one who works under the direct supervision of a lawyer. Whereas, an LDA is someone that offers legal services to the public.
Currently, there are only two states that allow a trained paralegal to provide legal services to the public, California and Arizona. In other states, it usually illegal for any non-lawyer to provide legal services to the public.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Becoming an LDA
There are many benefits to choosing this as a career, but it is not for everyone. I would like to take a moment and point out the different aspects of being in this profession and the common advantages and disadvantages of becoming an LDA.
The advantages include being your own boss, determining how many clients you want to take, the hours you want to work and taking time off when you want. Other advantages are the rewarding aspects such as being able to help low income people who can not afford a lawyer. In this economy there are many people just like this. Another benefit is being able to work from your home office. More and more people are looking for work at home jobs and this one offers exactly what they are looking for. For paralegals that are tired of working in the attorney’s office and desire to break away from constant supervision or office regulations and venture out on their own, this career move can be a great option.
The most common disadvantage is that the laws governing LDA’a is very strict. You can get sued if you fail to do your job properly. Everything from the wording in your contracts with clients, to disclaimers and even the way you advertise must be exactly in accordance with the law or you could end up paying fines or losing your career as an LDA. Starting up can also be difficult as far as the costs and requirements associated with registering with the County Recorder’s Office. The biggest problem that LDA’s face is being accused of UPL (The Unauthorized Practice of Law). An LDA must always be clear that they are not a lawyer and can not give legal advice. An LDA can however, give information on laws or information that was written by an attorney but they can not form personal opinions about any case. This can be a costly mistake.
Can Anyone Become and LDA?
No, not everyone can. A person can be denied. For instance, a criminal record, not having enough education in law or legal studies, no legal experience, if you are not a citizen, if your registration has been revoked in the past, etc. can all result in a denial of your application to become an LDA.
What are the Legal Requirements for Becoming an LDA?
There are several things that must happen prior to starting your career as an LDA. According to the law, a person must fill out the application and bring with them all of the following information: a birth certificate, valid driver’s license, a high school diploma or GED, proof of a completed accredited paralegal program that had at least 24 semester units, and a $25,000 bond that is good for two years or $25,000 in cash. There are also additional fees that need to be paid at the time of registering such as the registration fee and the filing fee.
As you can see, the advantages and disadvantages of becoming an LDA are pretty involved. But in the long run, it is a very rewarding career.