• scale on paper with words we the people. Protect Access to Justice for California Consumers.

Proposed 2013 California Bill AB 888 May Hinder California Consumer’s Access to Justice

California Assembly Bill No. 888, authored by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson may drastically impact California consumers access to legal help from non-attorneys who, without the help of a legal document assistant, may be unable to obtain access to justice.

The current law enables the California State Bar to seek injunctions against UPL (unauthorized practice of law) violators. However, AB 888 offers a perverse financial incentive to the State Bar to persecute Legal Document Assistants (LDAs). This is achieved because California Bill AB 888 provides for an award of Attorney’s fees to the State Bar if they prevail; yet there is no award of Attorney fees to the LDAs who are found innocent. This will create a perverse financial incentive to the State Bar to pursue claims against LDAs whether they are legitimate or not and further, creates such an imbalance of power and inherent financial risk to do business, that many LDAs will stop providing assistance to self-represented citizens.

State Bar Conflict of Interest

The State bar has a natural conflict of interest when it comes to the regulating of Legal Document Assistants, because many of the Bar’s members see Legal Document Assistants as competition. While they do not offer legal advice, Legal Document Assistants prepare legal documents and other legal paperwork at a fraction of the price of Attorneys. The State Bar will receive a great deal of pressure from its members and from local Bar Associations to pursue these claims against Legal Document Assistants and the highly effective and professional LDAs will be targeted the most by the State Bar, as the successful LDAs are often viewed as competition by local attorneys.

Why Consumers Hire a Legal Document Assistant

Many consumers are unable to afford the services of an attorney. Therefore, they hire a Legal Document Assistant to provide self-help legal services, under the consumer’s direction. In some contested matters, these consumers are already at a disadvantage by not having an Attorney. It would be a greater and serious disruption to California consumers access to  justice if they are unable to hire a Legal Document Assistant to prepare, process, and file their legal documents for them.

Many courts offer assistance to self-represented litigants, however, they are seriously overwhelmed, with long wait times, and are frequently unable to provide timely assistance to all who require it. Legal Document Assistants offer similar services to the public —therefore assisting self-represented litigants and decreasing the strain on the courts.

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Protect Your Rights and Get Involved

California Consumers have great need of the services of a professional Legal Document Assistant, and our services are of great benefit to many for whom typical legal fees are unaffordable. California Bill AB 888 is a threat to California consumers. Preserve your rights to low-cost legal document assistance using the services of a Legal Document Assistant. Write your congressman not to pass California Bill AB 888.

Noreen Evans (Chair)
State Capitol,
1303 10th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Mimi Walters (Vice Chair)
State Capitol, Room 5052
Sacramento, CA 95814

Joel Anderson
State Capitol, Room 5052
Sacramento, CA 95814

Ellen Corbet
State Capitol, Room 313
Sacramento, CA 95814

Hannah-Beth Jackson
State Capitol, Room 5080
Sacramento, CA 95814

Mark Leno
State Capitol, Room 5100
Sacramento, CA 95814

Bill Monning
State Capitol, Room 4066
Sacramento, CA 95814

Benjamin Palmer
Chief Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee
State Capitol, Room 2187
Sacramento, CA 95814

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

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