Legal Document Assistant

In Trust Legal is not a law firm. We cannot represent you in court, advise you about your legal rights or the law, or select legal forms for you.  We provide low-cost, legally enforceable, high-quality legal documents to the public. We also provide paralegal assistance to attorneys.  Carol Ramirez, the owner of In Trust Legal, is a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) and a registered and bonded Legal Document Assistant (LDA) in the County of San Luis Obispo.  To better understand Carol’s extensive qualifications, please read below.

What is a Legal Document Assistant (LDA)?

Legal Document Assistants in the State of California are still sometimes incorrectly referred to as “independent paralegals” or “freelance paralegals,” even though it has been more than a decade since those terms became obsolete by law.  On September 30, 1998, 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 (LDA).

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.

Unlike paralegals, LDAs are authorized by law to provide legal document preparation services to consumers.  In January 2000, the California State Senate adopted a bill requiring Legal Document Assistants to be registered and bonded.  The bill also included an education and experience requirement.  Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) is required each year in order to provide the most accurate information to clients in accordance with Business and Professions Code 6400.

Neither paralegals nor LDA’s are permitted to engage in the practice of law in accordance with California’s Business and Professions Code 6400.  Legal Document Assistants are governed by the following Sections of the California Business and Professions Code: 6400-6401.6, 6402-6407 and 6408-6415.

What can a Legal Document Assistant handle?

An LDA can provide assistance with routine legal tasks, such as typing and filling out the legal paperwork for legal documents.  An experienced LDA can help you avoid the pitfalls and also make sure every important detail on a form is accounted for.

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.

What is a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)?

Certified Legal Assistant is the title given to a paralegal who has passed the Certified Paralegal Exam and has met additional education and experience requirements for certification as a CLA.  According to the American Bar Association, there is a distinction between “certified” paralegals and “certificated” paralegals and the terms are not interchangeable. Certified Paralegals have passed a professional exam and certificated paralegals have completed a paralegal program through an academic institution.

Carol Ramirez, CLA, LDA has accomplished all of these requirements by graduating from an accredited paralegal program from a California university, passing the CLA exam for certification, having worked with attorneys for 35 years drafting legal documents, and is registered and bonded as an LDA in San Luis Obispo County.

CALDA-big-e1421103985177San Luis Obispo County LDA # 250

Bond # 0654862

Notary Public Commission # 2068786