Claudia Mansbach, Divorce With Dignity
The paralegal profession is a good one, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for paralegals is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is close to the average for all occupations. But the paralegal profession draws many applicants and competition for the available jobs will be strong.
Professionally trained paralegals also have the option of leaving the job market behind and starting their own legal business as a Legal Document Assistant. For those who want to have flexible working hours, have the satisfaction of being one’s own boss and not be limited by a set salary, this could be the perfect career move.
What is the difference between a Paralegal and a Legal Document Assistant?
Paralegals (or Legal Assistants) do a variety of tasks to support lawyers; are employed by an attorney, law firm, corporation, or government agency; and work under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. Some paralegals provide services to law firms and attorneys as independent contractors rather than as direct employees.
In 1998, California became the first state to formally create and regulate the new profession of Legal Document Assistant. Legal Document Assistants (LDAs) offer services to the general public and do not work under the supervision of an attorney. Unlike paralegals, LDAs, who must meet registration and bonding requirements, are authorized to assist clients with the preparation and processing of legal forms that have been drafted by attorneys. But they cannot offer legal advice, answer questions of a legal nature, discuss legal strategies, select forms for the client or appear in court on behalf of the client.
Below are the requirements for California, and now many other states, though not all have a path to becoming an Independent Paralegal.
What are the requirements to apply for registration as an LDA?
The person applying for registration must have at least one of the following –
|Education or Certification||PLUS:|
|A high school or general equivalency diploma||A minimum of two years of law-related experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney
A minimum of two years experience, prior to January 1, 1999, providing self-help service
|A bachelor’s degree in any field||A minimum of one year of law-related experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney
A minimum of one year experience, prior to January 1, 1999, providing self-help service
|A certificate of completion from a paralegal program that is institutionally accredited but not approved by the American Bar Association, that requires successful completion of a minimum of 24 semester units, or the equivalent, in legal specialization courses.
|A certificate of completion from a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association.|
An alternative to the job market for paralegals
One of the best niche businesses for a Legal Document Assistant is being a divorce specialist. The Divorce With Dignity Network of professionals offers an unmatched opportunity for LDAs to start their own business, helping clients who are seeking a non-litigated amicable divorce with the preparation and processing of the necessary divorce papers.
By becoming a member of the Divorce With Dignity Network, the groundwork has already been laid for you. For starters, you will have authorized use of our nationally recognized business name and your own page on our website. We will provide you with the forms, printed business materials, and software that you’ll need, and will give you one-on-one in-person training to set you up for success. Our network members also receive ongoing coaching and training in our monthly conference calls. You don’t have to figure out everything on your own!
If you’d like to beat the odds in the job market for paralegals, and if becoming a Divorce With Dignity business owner sounds like a career move that might be right for you, we invite you to visit our website to learn more about this exciting opportunity!
The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions.