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How to Become a California Legal Document Preparer

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Nonlawyers are authorized in California to prepare legal documents if properly registered as a legal document assistant. Paralegals acting under the supervision of a lawyer need not register, but those working independently must. An LDA must have a minimum level of education and post a bond against errors they might make in the course of their work.

Prove your education. A California LDA must have either a high school diploma with two years of legal experience; a baccalaureate degree with one year of legal experience; or a certificate of completion from a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association.

Post a bond. The bond requirement for a California LDA is $25,000. This requirement is intended as a consumer protection that gives a wronged consumer a means to collect for damages resulting from the LDA's mistake. These bonds can be obtained through most insurance companies.

Register with counties. LDAs must notify the county clerk of each county in which they do business as an LDA of their operations. The requirements vary by county, but generally a photo ID, proof of education and bond and a recording fee are required.

Tip

A legal document assistant cannot practice law. Typically this means they cannot advise a customer as to which documents they need or the effectiveness of any particular document. They are only able to help completing or drafting documents. Many LDAs are also paralegals or notaries.

Warning

California's Business and Professions Code requires the name, business address, telephone number, registration number, expiration date of the registration, and county of registration must be included on any advertisement for an LDA and on any documents an LDA prepares.

About the Author

Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.

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