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The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
March 15, 2011

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 2; Issue 3
March, 2011


JOIN US FOR OUR LIVE WEBINAR

The ABC's of LDP's - Running a Successful Legal Document Preparer Business

Due to the amount of information we have compiled, we are splitting this webinar into two parts:

Part I: Saturday March 26 ~ 11:00a to 12:00p
Part II: Saturday April 2 ~ 11:00a to 12:00p

Advance registration is required, bandwidth is limited.
Premium Members - FREE
Basic Members - $10.00* (one price pays for both webinars)

SPECIAL OFFER for Basic Members:
For $25.00 Basic Members can upgrade to a Premium Membership and attend all three webinars at no additional charge.

Advance registration will be available on our site. Emails will be sent with your webinar login information.


WEBINAR SCHEDULE

The ABC's of LDP's - Running a Successful Legal Document Preparer Business

March 26th and April 2, (Consecutive Saturdays) 11:00a to 12:00p

Each webinar participant receives an e-book full of information to help you grow your business. Bring your questions and comments.

Discussion topics include: Focus Areas Business Essentials Marketing & Sales Customer Service Networking Training & Education A Look Ahead


The FAQs of BPPs - Bankruptcy Petition Preparation Basics

Saturday, April 23rd, 11:00a to 12:00p

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition Preparation Overview.


Family Feud - Family Law Document Preparation Basics

Saturday, May 21st, 11:00a to 12:00p

Overview of Preparing Documents for Florida Family Law.

NOTE: To participate in any of our Webinars, you must be an FALDP Member.


WHAT'S NEW AT THE FALDP

NEW INTERACTIVE FORMS

Legal Document Preparers who prepare Florida family law forms struggle with the official .pdf forms published by the Florida Supreme Court on www.flcourts.org . Even some of the newer forms, just posted this past December, are lacking.

Some of the fill-able forms fill incorrectly, with different point sizes or fonts. Other .pdf forms don't fill at all, with a promise that they will become fill-able in the future.

FALDP is working on it. We are in the process of making the forms fill-able, and while we're at it, improving the formatting. No worries, none of the language has been touched. These forms are suitable for legal document preparers to use for their customers, or for consumers to use for themselves.

Have a look at our Interactive Family Law Forms page.

COMING SOON: We are developing interactive forms software for family law legal documents. I am testing it now, and it is wonderful. We will be unveiling it and offering it to our members, for members only, at our Webinar in May.


FALDP MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Markene Henry

I first met Markene Henry at our first annual Conference last October. She and her husband, Tom Conroy, had joined FALDP only days before the event. I was immediately impressed by her eagerness to learn; and her warm and caring attitude.

After having been a Notary for over twenty years and preparing documents along the way; Markene recently completed her two years of college level paralegal training.

As a certified mortgage signing agent, she stayed busy during the real estate boom years making house calls. As a matter of course, the signing agent would close loans right at the borrower's kitchen table. She kept busy with re-fi's, modifications, and new loans, until all that business dried up.

Nowadays her areas of focus are family law; landlord/tenant; and wills. Every few months she volunteers at a club or group, and speaks about the importance of estate planning. She emphasizes that estate planning is not only for the wealthy, but for everyone.

Markene has truly embraced working at home. Her work from home style includes a walk-in storefront business, with a sign in her front yard advertising her services. She has arranged her enclosed front porch as an office, and helps people as she can, as they come.

She loves the flexibility of working from home, and having time to do the other things she needs to do. As a long time Notary, she also performs wedding ceremonies, and jokes that she can marry a couple in the morning; and prepare their divorce papers in the afternoon.

She told me that she is glad that she found FALDP because it provides a network of people doing the same things as she, and she now has other legal document preparers that she can learn from.

She went on to tell me that this area is low income and a lot of people don't know that there are things they can do without an attorney.

When I asked her what she liked best about being a legal document preparer, she said, "It's a good feeling to help others and make a little money at the same time".

Markene and Tom live and work in Winter Haven. They are working towards expanding their business and will soon be unveiling their new website.

This Member Spotlight section has been added as a regular feature of our newsletter.


THE BIG PICTURE

LDP Industry Regulation

From a business standpoint, in general, I believe that the less governmental interference the better. I am all for laissez faire. Let the marketplace decide whether a business or businessperson is worthy of being and staying in business.

I prefer the least number of officials as possible telling me how to run a business. Many people do not realize that there are all types of minimally regulated businesses legally operating in America.

I owned and operated a masonry construction business for many years. I was licensed with no more than an occupational license, to pour driveways, foundations, and patios; and lay block up to three stories high.

We were required to comply with all applicable codes, and carry a million dollars worth of liability insurance. But, I never once had to prove to anyone, other than my customers, that I knew the first thing about masonry work or construction. Surprising.

Florida has just now, as of March 1, begun to regulate Home Inspectors, although most consumers assumed for years that inspectors were required to be licensed by the state. The home inspection industry in Florida evolved over the years.

Fifteen years ago a home inspection was an occasional optional procedure for home buyers; and now it is mandatory for anyone trying to buy a home and expects to have a mortgage.

Government regulation of any industry, is (borrowing an attorney phrase) a double edged sword. More government regulation may prevent unscrupulous actors from damaging consumers and their pocketbooks.

Consider the mortgage modification companies. Some of those companies actually helped consumers negotiate mortgage modifications; but many others took the money and did nothing. At the same time as business regulation protects consumers, that regulation can sometimes be invasive and cumbersome to business owners.

Once an industry is formally regulated there are licenses to acquire; certificates to earn; and continuing education units to complete. Along with each of those, comes a set of documents, forms, and procedures. To be or not to be regulated is a balancing test.

One of my strongest arguments in favor of some sort of regulation is that industry standards and regulation will keep the cowboys out.

The cowboys, the bad actors, the hit and run business owners in for a quick buck, with little or no education, skills, or scruples. Too many of them will damage the public's perception of an industry. Think used car salesman.

On the other hand, if legal document preparers were regulated, who would do the regulating? As it is, the Florida Bar regulates the unlicensed practice of law.

And in theory, providing legal document preparers are diligent in avoiding even the appearance of practicing the law without a license, the Florida Bar has nothing to do with legal document preparers.

Should legal document preparers be regulated by the state of Florida through the Department of Business and Professional Regulation? Through the Florida Bar? The Supreme Court? Should we be regulated through some other entity? What do you think?

Should legal document preparers be regulated? And, if so, by whom? We welcome your comments.


FALDP Contact Information:
Main number (727) 344-9240
Fax (888) 840-4934
Email staff@faldp.org

Note to all members: As we were updating our roster, we noticed that there are a few members that have never sent us a completed Member Application. We need those for our files, please make sure that you have sent us your application. I'll be sending out reminder emails soon.

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