What is a Legal Document Assistant / “LDA”?
A Legal Document Assistant (LDA), in the United States is a non-lawyer authorized to assist with the preparation of legal documents. Unlike a paralegal, legal document assistants do not work under the supervision of an attorney.
Legal Document Assistants were once commonly known as Independent Paralegals. However, as of January 1st, 2000, only those Paralegals working directly for attorneys may now be referred to as Paralegals. Those formerly known as Independent Paralegals are now officially known as Legal Document Assistants (LDAs).
LDAs have the same educational background as a paralegal and are REQUIRED by law to be registered and bonded in the county in which they have their principal place of business. Paralegals are not required to be registered and bonded because they work “under an attorneys direction/malpractice insurance.”
- A Legal Document Assistant is NOT a Lawyer.
- By law, they cannot give you legal advice or represent you in the courts in any matter.
- If you need to consult with an attorney, your LDA will be able to provide you with a referral.
- We always suggest that you be sure to ask the LDA you are thinking of retaining if he or she is bonded and registered in their county. This is for your protection. If a person is acting as an LDA but is not registered and bonded, then they are operating illegally in California. The Bond is for your protection!
What does an LDA do?
An LDA is an experienced professional who is authorized to prepare legal documents for a client, but only at the direction of the client. In other words, an LDA is there to assist the “self-help” client handle their own legal matters without the cost of an attorney.
Since even the best legal, self-help books can be confusing and overwhelming, your LDA can provide invaluable assistance with routine legal tasks, such as typing and filing the paperwork for uncontested divorces, bankruptcies, wills, and many other types of documents.
Do I Need a LDA?
- If you do not know your legal rights in a situation, chances are highly likely that you may need to see an attorney.
- If you already have decided on a course of action, but are uncertain about how to fill out the paperwork, you may need the help of a LDA.
- If you recently bought a legal self-help book, an LDA may be especially helpful in helping you finish and file your legal paperwork.
Michelle L. Griswold is a Certificated Paralegal, Certified Notary Public, and a registered and bonded Legal Document Assistant (LDA) with offices located in the County of Placer. She has over 20 years of experience in the legal and business fields and personally worked on over 1000 cases and is uniquely qualified to assist you in the preparation and processing of your legal documents.