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The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
September 16, 2014
Members & Friends:

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 04; Issue 9
September 2014


Members and Friends


This free newsletter is published every month for the benefit of FALDP members, legal document preparers, and friends.


Announcements


Conference Report

I promised that this year's conference would be the best ever -- And It Was! I'm thrilled at the feedback we received. The energy in the room was palpable. As we had hoped and planned the speakers were entertaining, informative, and engaging. Our association is nothing without our members, and I, personally, want to thank each and everyone of you who took the time out of your busy work and life to spend a few days coming together. It is so helpful to attach a face to a name and voice.

I admit we had some issues with being able to hear our first speaker at the back of the room. It was a long room, and we had no microphone. But,our speaker, Frank Adamo seemed to do a brisk business in book sales, so his presentation obviously held impact. Attorney, Jennifer Milne was engaging and down to earth. So refreshing to see an attorney of her caliber stand up for pro se litigants. She announced that she will offer a phone consultation to FALDP member's customers for only $99 for the first hour. She doesn't spend the hour consultation promoting her own services, on the contrary -- she gives a fair legal analysis and assessment of options. It is up to the consumer whether to continue with her unbundled legal services, or return to the document preparer. It is our responsibility to be aware of her time; and understand that she is offering us a huge service.

Judge John Alexander spoke for over an hour and answered many questions. He acknowledged that we walk a thin line, and must be vigilant in avoiding even the appearance of the unauthorized practice of law, lest some attorney accuse us of that third degree felony. One of the points that he drove home, is that a petition is not evidence. A petition gets the petitioner to a hearing, at which time, they can present evidence. He talked about what is not evidence, and briefly explained the hearsay rule. And he told us, that he frequently tells pro se litigants that they are not competent to represent themselves. This may sound harsh to some, but he is exactly right. In answer to the question, -- then what is a pro se litigant, who cannot afford counsel supposed to do? The judge said the consumer should go to legal aid. St. Johns County Legal Aid is part of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, which is among the best in the state. St. Johns County Legal Aid offers a legal clinic once a month; and also a forms signing clinic once a month.

Referring people to Legal Aid sounds great, however many of the circuits do not have the resources or funding to offer the broad spectrum of services offered by St. Johns County Legal Aid and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. In some circuits the assistance guidelines or so narrow, or the income requirement so low, many are turned away.

Thanks to Veronica Torres - we got some video - Judge Alexander, Ruth Tick, and attendees reactions to the conference. We will post some videos soon on our YouTube Channel and our site as soon as we can get them ready.

CHECK THE SITE SOON FOR VIDEOS, UPDATES, AND PICTURES


New Courses Coming Soon.


Family Adoptions - How to prepare documents for Florida family adoptions, including stepparent adoptions, grandparent adoptions, and other relative adoptions. By definition, a Florida family adoption is an adoption by a relative within three steps of consanguinity - blood relation. This course will include:

  • Necessary forms, with line by line explanation.
  • E-book download, Florida Family Adoptions
  • Step by step instructions as to procedure
  • Information about second parent adoptions in Florida (gay adoption)



    • Tuition - $345.

      Summary Administration of Estate - Probate for small estates. By definition a small estate in Florida is valued at less than $75,000. excluding homesteaded property. These are virtual Rubik's Cubes that require logic and persistence to work through. This course will include:

    • Necessary forms with line by line explanations
    • Step by step instructions as to procedure
    • Information about Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration


      • Tuition - $299.


        FALDP Ambassadors


        We need help from at least one member per county to serve as FALDP Ambassadors. The exact role, duties, and responsibilities will vary by ability and county. We are trying to promote our service through this program. When members serve as Ambassadors, they gain the extra credibility that our association provides, while promoting their own document preparation services. We mentioned this new program at a previous webinar and at the conference. A new site page about our Ambassador Program will be up soon.

        UPL - Be Careful Out There


        The unauthorized practice of law is a third degree felony. Every member acknowledges our Pledge at the time of joining, which states:

        As a Member of the FALDP, I agree:
        To refrain from offering legal advice.
          To direct my customers to information so that they may make informed decisions.
        To provide responsive customer service.
        To comply fully with applicable state and federal laws.
        To ensure clear and truthful advertising.
        To clearly disclose costs and relevant terms.
        To represent myself as a legal document preparer, and not as a paralegal.
        To refer customers to an attorney for legal advice.
          To conduct my business ethically.
        To respect my customers’ privacy.
        To keep in strict confidence my customers’ affairs, and not share information about a customer without that customer’s permission unless court ordered.
        To support legislation promoting public access to the legal system.
         

        We take this Pledge seriously; and expect members to do so as well. I heard some member's comments at the conference that lead me to believe that some members are deep inside the murky netherworld or UPL. We can help you find your way. There is plenty of work available without going into that murky swamp. If you want to be an attorney, then its time for law school. We're not attorneys and there is plenty of work and need for our services without stepping over the line. Soon we will announce a Webinar about avoiding UPL. The webinar invitations come straight to your email from anymeeting.com - so please check the site, and check your email. We'll host it in the next few weeks.


        Guest Article

        Responsive Law: Fighting for Document Preparers and Their Customers


        Consumers for a Responsive Legal System (“Responsive Law”) is a national nonprofit organization working to make the legal system more user-friendly. One of our goals is to make sure that people using the legal system have access to a range of legal services to meet the continuum of legal needs. Just as not every medical problem requires a doctor, not every legal problem should require a lawyer.

        Consumers often face legal issues that they do not wish to handle alone, but which aren’t complex enough to merit the expense of an attorney. As FALDP members are well aware, document preparation services can help meet this need. However, in Florida and elsewhere, document preparers are limited by restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law, often to the detriment of their customers.

        Responsive Law is working to reform UPL restrictions so that consumers have access to services that fit their needs. In March, we testified to the Florida legislature about how UPL regulation in Florida is too broad and how it needs to accommodate non-lawyers who competently provide services to their customers.

        We’ve been active in other states as well, protecting the right of consumers to choose the best service provider for their legal needs. For instance, in California, we’ve prevented a recurring attempt to pass new UPL legislation that would severely limit the ability of that state’s legal document assistants to remain in business.

        We plan to continue the fight to make appropriate, cost-effective legal assistance available to consumers nationwide. We’re looking forward to working with the FALDP leadership to see how else we can help Florida LDPs be allowed to serve their customers better.

        As practitioners of law-related services, FALDP members are an important part of the movement to make the legal system accessible to everyone. We hope that you’ll come visit our website at www.responsivelaw.org to learn about how you fit into this movement and what you can do to help ensure its success.


        Reminders ...


        Members Photo Gallery is a work in progress on the Membership Directory. If your picture isn't there or if you have an updated photo, please send it. A passport style portrait is best, but we can crop if you need us to. Member's photos will be linked to the member's mini-page on our site.

        Favorite Quote - Do you have a favorite quote that sums up you or your philosophy? Or a quote that you like for its humor, wisdom, or insight? Send us your favorite quote and we'll add it under your picture on our site in the Member's Photo Gallery. And remember ...



        Google Map - We have temporarily removed the Google Map from the Member's Directory so that we can update it. In the coming weeks, Julian will be contacting members to confirm that the information we have is correct. The information for the Google Map should include your business name, phone, and email; a scan of your business card (if available), your logo, and a link to your website.


        Turn Key Business Bundles


        Can't find a job? Create one. America was founded by small business owners. Small businesses continue to dominate.

        We now offer three different Turn Key Business bundles. Any of them is still only $499. And each of them offers slightly different business tools.

        Turn Key Classic
        The Turn Key Class is our tried and true bundle of business services and products to help you get started in your own document preparation business. This business bundle is a great fit for document preparers with limited experience who need help with business basics, training, and a professional website.
        Turn Key Basic

        The Turn Key Basic Bundle is geared towards document preparers who have some document preparation experience as a paralegal or academic training. The Basic Bundle focuses on the business side of document preparation.
        Turn Key Pro

        The Turn Key Pro Business bundle helps you take your business to the next level. We include two courses so that document preparers can expand services and create new income streams.

        staff@faldp.org or 800-515-0496


        Ask the Members


        We invite members, document preparers, and friends to answer the questions posted on our "Ask the Members" page. Please answer the question in a way that might provide valuable information to whomever is looking for similar information. Include a source for your information, such as a case or statute. Make sure that your answers are more than one line. A paragraph of at least three sentences is good. And, members are invited to include their contact information and website. If you have answered questions that were never posted, it may be because your answer was too short or did not include a source for your information.

        Asked and Answered


        We created a series of Asked and Answered pages which organize the consumer questions and answers by topic. There are hundreds of questions which have been asked and answered in the past four years, and this is our attempt to make the information more accessible for consumers. Too much information or disorganized information is almost as bad as no information.

        Member's Announcements & Contributions


        We accept member's announcements and appreciate your contributions. If you have an announcement about your business, an expansion of services, moving your offices, or winning awards, please send us the information and we'll include it in our newsletter. Your announcement needs to be pertinent to your business, we are unable to include announcements about other trade associations, clubs or groups.

        If you would like to write an article, editorial, opinion piece, or web page please let us know. We are always in need of fresh information and insights.


        Don't have a site yet? Try Site Sell


        Site Sell Link you'll open yourself to whole world of possibilities. Many business people struggle with web marketing, SEO, rankings, analytics, and advertising. SBI does most of the work for you. Give it a go - you won't be disappointed.
        FALDP Contact Information:
        Main number – (941)237-0951
        Toll free - (800)515-0496
        Email – staff@faldp.org

        PLEASE LINK YOUR SITE TO WWW.FALDP.ORG
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