Sacramento, California (PRWEB) June 13, 2013
Simply filling out legal forms may soon get very expensive for California consumers, if the State Bar has its way.
The California Association of Legal Document Assistants (CALDA) is calling for the rejection of Assembly Bill 888, which if passed, would allow the State Bar to collect civil penalties from those it deems as “unfair competition” and provides for one-way reimbursement of “expenses incurred by the State Bar in the investigation and prosecution” of said competition.
AB 888 passed the State Assembly in May, and is now pending in the State Senate. AB 888 provides for the reimbursement of attorneys’ fees to the State Bar if it prevails in a lawsuit. However, it makes no provision for individuals who prevail in a lawsuit brought by the Bar for similarly recovering the costs of their defense under this bill.
“This (AB 888) is one-sided and patently unfair,” wrote Ed Sherman, founder of Nolo Press, in a letter to Noreen Evans, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“As a trade association protecting the economic interests of its lawyer members, the State Bar now has even greater financial incentive to pursue claims against those it pursues, whether these claims prevail or not,” said Ian Duncan, president of CALDA. “This bill poses a conflict of interest by giving the Bar the ability to regulate those it deems as unfair competition, which historically have included LDAs, who are already regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs under Business and Professions Code Section 6400 et. seq.,”
Duncan and several other CALDA long-time supporters wrote similar letters to Assembly Member Richard Dickinson (D-Sacramento), author of Assembly Bill 888 and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for the rejection or major revision of AB 888.
The bill would have “a chilling effect on the ability of Legal Document Assistants to provide self-help services to those who cannot afford high attorney fees,” Duncan wrote.
Sherman wrote, “The State Bar has historically been overzealous in prosecuting, often without merit, reputable Legal Document Assistants who provide low-cost self-help services to individuals who represent themselves in a legal matter, often because they cannot afford attorney representation.”
CALDA General Counsel Richard Lubetzky, added, “Legal Document Assistants charge very little for their services, and cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to defend such actions, and will be forced to go out of business by default. If this were to occur, consumers would be deprived of all access to the courts, as they cannot afford attorneys, and legal aid has insufficient resources to assist them.”
With the glut of graduating and unemployed lawyers in the state, Lubetzky added that the bill is also “…little more than a cleverly disguised effort by the Bar to seek additional revenue from nonmembers of the Bar.”
CALDA is calling on its 200-plus members, as well as California consumers, to contact or write letters to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asking for the rejection or revision of AB 888. The organization has created a special page on its website for additional information on AB 888: http://www.calda.org/ab888/
The California Association of Legal Document Assistants represents over 200 of its member LDAs in the state, who are authorized by Business and Professions Code section 6400, et. seq. to provide self-help service to a member of the public who is representing himself or herself in a legal matter. LDAs may not give legal advice, but may type legal documents at the person’s specific direction, and provide general published information to assist the person in representing himself or herself. CALDA members are required by the organization to adhere to a code of ethics and to undergo continuing education. There are approximately 700 Legal Document Assistants licensed in California. CALDA is the oldest and largest organization of its kind in the state.
For more information, or to locate an LDA in your area, visit http://www.calda.org
Ian Duncan, CALDA President
Owner, California Document Preparers
244 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
Connie Crockett, CALDA Vice President
Phone: (530) 265-0192
307 Spring Street, Ste C
Nevada City, CA 95959
SPANISH MEDIA CONTACT:
Marcel Neumann, CALDA Past President
Phone: (510) 782-6811
Owner, Affordable Document Preparation Services
24301 Southland Drive
Hayward, CA 94545
AFRICAN AMERICAN MEDIA CONTACT:
Vanessa Watson, CALDA Education Chair
Owner, Bizie Ladie, Inc.
4001 Inglewood Ave., Ste 101-345
Redondo Beach, CA 90278