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The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
April 16, 2015
Members & Friends:

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 5 - Issue 4 - 2015
April 2015


Members and Friends


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


Announcements


Sixth Annual Conference

It's official! The Sixth Annual FALDP Conference is scheduled for Saturday September 19 in Daytona Beach, Florida at the Fountain Beach Resort. For the first time ever we are repeating the venue. We tried to find a similar location on the west coast, but nothing could come close as to amenities and cost. We expect the accommodations to be $59 per night for ocean view; and $49 per night for street view. We will be posting a registration form with discount codes soon. And more details coming soon!


Early Membership Renewal

Early membership renewal is now available at a discounted rate. This discounted rate is for renewals only, new members must pay the regular membership fee. Through April the discounted renewal fee is $55; on May 1 the discounted renewal fee is $65; and on June 1 the early renewal discount expires. On June 1 and through July members renew for the regular membership fee of $75. No one is dropped from the membership roster for nonpayment until the end of July.

Early Renewal $55 through April


New FALDP Members

New members who join our association in April or May will not have to renew until June 2016. The membership fee for new members is $75. So now is a great time to join. What are you waiting for?

The FALDP Team

The Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers is the proud sponsor of Team FALDP, a co-ed softball team based in Daytona Beach, Florida. The attitudes and lessons learned in team sports have everything to do with life and business. Teamwork, community, competition, victory, and defeat - people coming together to do their best for each other and the team.

Phil Jackson, retired NBA Coach, said it best: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team."

We are sponsoring the softball team for several reasons. The most important reason is that we believe in team work - and want to promote the concept - that we're all in this together. We, members of FALDP, are a team. Besides each of us working in our individual businesses to earn money and make a living, we are working together to promote access to the legal system for pro se litigants.

More Quotes about Teamwork


  • "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." --Vince Lombardi

  • "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." --Michael Jordan

  • "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." --Andrew Carnegie

  • "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." --Henry Ford


  • If you feel so inclined, please donate to our softball team, in any amount you can spare. Our donations help the team with transportation, refreshments, and equipment. Thank you!


    UPL Fishing Phone Call?

    I'm not sure, but I think a call I received the other day was from one of our UPL Committee members trying to entrap me into giving legal advice. If it was not a UPL Committee member, then it was a consumer who just didn't want to take "I don't know" for an answer. The consumer called on the toll free number, and the conversation went something like this:

    Consumer: Hi, I have a question.

    Me: Ok, first let me say, I'm not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice or representation. What I can do is provide you with legal information and explain procedure. I'll answer your question if I can.

    Consumer: Ok, I'm a grandmother, going to be a grandmother, my daughter is pregnant. I'm in Ohio. And I want to know if the father has rights to the child.

    Me: First of all I don't know. This is a Florida site, I don't know anything about Ohio.

    Consumer: No, you don't understand, my daughter went to Florida and she's pregnant. And I want to know if the father has rights to the child under Florida law.

    Me: I don't know. It depends.

    Consumer: The father is in Florida too and he's a bad guy. And I want to make sure my daughter can come back home. I heard that Florida law says that the father can keep my daughter there, is that true?

    Me: I don't know. That sounds like a legal question.

    Consumer: I just want to know what the Florida rules say. I'm not asking for advice.

    Me: Your question has too many ifs and thens, it requires legal analysis. I'm not an attorney, I'm not allowed to speculate about these things, it would be giving legal advice. So I don't know.

    Consumer: But I just want legal information.

    Me: I'm sorry I can't help you. The Florida Bar has an attorney referral service, maybe you should contact them.


    We Are Disruptors

    We are Disruptors. We are disrupting the status quo. As with any disruptive movement there is resistance from those who benefit from keeping things as they are. Legal document preparers are a threat to attorneys, well to certain types of attorneys. We threaten the existence of attorneys who over charge for document preparation. We easily under cut attorney fees when the attorney is charging for nothing more than preparing documents. A consumer told me that her attorney charged her $1500. to prepare her Family Law Financial Affidavit, when the consumer had already done it herself by hand. It was strictly a typing job. $1500!

    We recently came across an attorney site advertising family law document preparation. The attorney site states:

    "Divorce is never trouble-free, but why make it harder than you have to?
    For simple, uncontested cases, it’s as low as $399, and we make it as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  • We’ll give you Florida Supreme Court approved forms absolutely free
  • You’ll fill out the forms
  • You’ll meet one-on-one with a member of our legal team to review the forms after you complete them.


  • It’s that simple.  We’ll also explain local Court rules and give you advice about filing your case and appearing before the Court.  Plus, we’ll also provide a Notary Public service for free!

      The clerk’s office charges fees for the necessary Florida Supreme Court approved forms and doesn’t even provide assistance when filling them out.

    ..., we give you the forms for free and our attorneys provide legal advice for a nominal fee."


    So apparently the consumer has the pleasure of paying $399 to prepare the forms themselves. For that $399 they get handed a stack of forms, go home, fill them out, come back and review them with a "member of their legal team", who I'm guessing is a paralegal. In the real world, the forms are free, all the Supreme Court approved forms are free. Patting themselves on the back for giving away what is free seems a bit disingenuous to me. Notary services can also be free. Most banks offer free notary services to their customers providing no witness is required. Then comes the kicker the undisclosed "nominal fee". Who knows what constitutes a nominal fee in attorney world?


    Florida Bar Article - April 15, 2015

    The following is an excerpt from an article in the Florida Bar News dated 4/15/2015 which appeared online a good week prior to 4/15. Its amazing that among the Bar's other super powers they can also time travel.

    Florida Bar News
    April 15, 2015
    By Gary Blankenship

    "...[We're] Planning to recommend that the Bar should look to getting in the business, perhaps with private company partners, of online lawyer referrals and the providing of online legal documents. [John]Stewart, [chair of Vision 2016’s Technology Committee] said the goal would be helping lawyers find new business and providing legal services to the 60 percent of the public who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford traditional legal services.

    In regard to online referral services and legal document companies, Stewart said *they are taking an ever-growing share of the legal marketplace, adding that President-elect Ramón Abadin has assembled extensive information on that subject.

    'It’s an access-to-justice issue, but it’s also a lawyer employment issue,' Stewart said. 'On the lawyer referral component, our committee will recommend that The Florida Bar get in that business in a meaningful way. The Florida Bar has a lawyer referral service . . . it was never intended to do what we are asking it to do. We’re going to suggest The Florida Bar get in that business, whether it be licensing with one of these companies or whether it be on our own.”'

    Likewise, he said the committee will propose that the Bar look at the document generation business. He noted companies are now offering a wide range of documents and even the court system’s portal for electronic filing will have the ability to generate some simplified documents for pro se litigants."

    * I suppose "they" means us. Document preparers taking an ever growing share of the legal marketplace. I have to admit it makes me smile. Stewart's other comments are startling - "but it's also a lawyer employment issue". Please oh please tell me that lawyers don't go to law school to prepare documents. Let them litigate. And "On the lawyer referral component, our committee will recommend that The Florida Bar get in that business in a meaningful way. Since Florida Bar Rules prohibit fee sharing between lawyers and nonlawyers; and referral fees equals fee sharing there is little incentive for nonlawyers to refer to lawyers. So, as I see it, Mr. Stewart then, in proposing that the Florida Bar and lawyers get in that business "in a meaningful way" is a blatant attempt to use the status of membership in the Florida Bar to control the marketplace. Monopoly? Anti-trust? Be sure to review the U.S. Supreme Court Teeth Whitening Case I've been writing about.

    And, "the committee will propose that the Bar look at the document generation business ... and even the court system’s portal for electronic filing will have the ability to generate some simplified documents for pro se litigants." We've tested some of the document generators on various clerk of court sites. Most are abysmal. In our tests on some of the clerk sites we found: The form fields don't populate properly; essential information is not set up as required fields; and the forms don't look right when printed.

    As much as some attorneys would like document preparers to fall off the face of the earth. We're here to stay, happily disrupting the status quo.


    Thank you.

    Thank you to all who contributed to and acknowledged the passing of Ron Boland. We collected $100 and sent it to Ron's wife Judy, to donate to his favorite charity. She wrote me back a heart felt thank you note, and I am extending her thank you to all of you who contributed.

    Feed the Gorilla!

    Julian heads our Gorilla Marketing Program. We have success with many free classified sites. Ebay classifieds, backpage, and pennysaverusa are examples. And, if you just don't want to deal with posting your own ads - let Julian do it. His flyer is sent out with all Welcome to FALDP emails, and you can find him on our site by clicking on Internet Marketing on the right hand navigation column under Document Preparer Resources. Let Julian's Legal Doc Prep do it. Julian heads our Gorilla Marketing unit. His flyer is sent out with all Welcome to FALDP emails, and you can find him on our site by clicking on Internet Marketing on the right hand navigation column under Document Preparer Resources.

    Remember to display our FALDP logo in all of your advertising online and off. Our credibility will help you instantly earn the trust of your prospective customers.


    Member's Announcements & Contributions


    Have something to share?


    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.


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    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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