Back to Back Issues Page
The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
May 15, 2016
Members & Friends:

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 6 - Issue 5 - 2016
May 2016


Members and Friends


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


Announcements


Conference 2016 - 7th Annual Conference

We're pleased to announce that we're returning to the Fountain Beach Resort Fountain Beach Resort - DB for our Seventh Annual FALDP Conference. Set for September 24, 2016 - All Day Saturday. Thanks go to Lou Sessa for assisting us once again by negotiating the best possible accommodation rates at the Fountain Beach Resort - only $59 and $69 per night.

We are making progress locating speakers. One of our guest speakers will be an attorney who will discuss and analyze the intersection of the unauthorized practice of law and civil rights. Rights such as freedom of contract and freedom of speech. FALDP Member, Sheila Smith, will discuss her personal journey in overcoming a UPL investigation. Director Ruth Tick will drill down on the unauthorized practice of law - providing an overview of UPL investigations in Florida - recent and historical. Included in this presentation are practical tips on how to avoid even the appearance of engaging in UPL, and what to do if you're investigated. We have also contacted the Florida Bar Speakers Bureau and requested an attorney to clarify specific UPL rules and investigative techniques.

This year we are offering graduated pricing, hoping to make the run up to our event a bit more organized. Early registration is the same as last year - $75 for the conference fee alone; or $130 for the conference plus membership or renewal fee. This amount, $130, is the same as if a member had taken advantage of early renewal for $55 and the conference fee. On June 30, the conference stand alone price will remain at $75; but the combination conference and membership/ renewal fee will increase to $150. In August and up until the conference the conference stand alone fee will be $95; and the combination conference and membership fee will be $170. We encourage you to register early.

Through June, we are inviting conference registrants to bring a guest at no additional charge. Beginning July 1, bringing a guest may end, subject to seating availability; and a clear head count for lunch. Lunch is included in your conference fee. We encourage attendees to bring family or friends along to enjoy the beach and pool during the conference.


Certification Update

All exams are now available and will continue to be available through May 15, 2016. Many of our members have already successfully completed them. Each exam allows three attempts, and requires a passing score of 75%. The immigration exam, initially displayed a "Pass" for a score of 50%. If you "passed" that exam at 50%, please retake the exam. The exams are linked to the Member's Area page. Please contact us - staff@faldp.org - if you have forgotten your password.

After May 16, 2016 the exams will be closed, and if you did not take and pass the exams, you will need to wait until next February to take them. Members may certify in as many focus areas as they desire, and must pass at lease one focus area exam to be considered certified.

The third requirement for certification is completing 10 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Please keep track of your CEUs. We are tracking them as well, but please do not rely on us alone to track them.

All of these certification requirements must be met before your certification is final. Once you have met all requirements and renew your membership, you will be issued your certification badge. We built a page on our site so that consumers can verify your certification.

We suggest that you take advantage of the FALDP Certification now. Next year, beginning February 1, 2017 we will reopen the testing center and there will be a cost for testing. We expect that the Basic Skills & Knowledge Exam will cost $50.; and each Focus Area Exam will be an additional $50.


FALDP Document Portal

We built a site for preparing family law documents automatically - FALDP-Document Portal

All you do is enter the information once into a questionnaire and the information fills to the fields in all the forms in that packet. So far we have four of the most requested family law packets:

  • Dissolution with No Property and No Children

  • Petition for Paternity and Related Relief

  • Dissolution with Children

  • Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Custody

  • Coming Soon - Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support


  • The monthly fee for those who are not members of FALDP - consumers and document preparers alike - is $99 per month unlimited use. There is absolutely no ongoing contract. Access for FALDP members is only $25 per month unlimited use. Whether the user is a consumer and pays $99 and actually only needs one time access; or a non-member document preparer who uses the site multiple times during a month - the benefits are substantial. Any one of these document sets could take hours to prepare manually, but with our Automated Document Portal the forms are completed in minutes. The user can either print the forms immediately or save to their computer. The tools page on that site includes information about using the site; additional stand alone forms; and instructions for the form sets.

    After submitting payment users receive the user name and password for the site. This login information is changed monthly at midnight on the fourth of the month. Access for the month is unlimited.


    Webinar - May 21

    FALDP is hosting a Members Only Webinar on Saturday May 21 @ 11:00. This webinar is titled - "Marketing, Sales & News". Invitations have already been sent. If you are an FALDP Member and have not received your invitation (after checking your spam box) please contact us at staff@faldp.org. This webinar will focus on marketing and sales techniques to convert a conversation into a business transaction. "Sale" is not a four letter word. We recognize that many document preparers do not have any sales training background and hope to help members better identify consumers' buying questions, creating a unique selling proposition, and the importance of follow up and follow through.

    Early Renewal Continues Through May

    Throughout May the early renewal fee is $65. And on June 1, the renewal fee increases to $75 and stays at that rate for most of the year. If you are a renewing member seeking certification and taking advantage of renewal discounts, you must have all of your certification steps completed - passed the Basic Skills & Knowledge Exam (with essay); passed at least one Focus Area Exam; and 10 Continuing Education Units.

    When you renew your membership listing moves to the top of the page on the Membership Directory in your home county; and also moves up the page in your other counties. The 2017 Renewal Star is displayed along with your listing.

    The last day to renew your membership and avoid being dropped from the membership roster and all site listings is July 31.


    Congratulations to FALDP Certified Members:
    The following members have completed the FALDP Certification process:

  • Ketty Rodriguez
  • Ruth Tick
  • Andrea Mathis
  • Christine Hall
  • Christine Marinkovich
  • Ken Diaz
  • Marilsa Medina
  • Connie Allis
  • Angela Angelovic
  • Judith Byrd
  • Karen Cone


    • Several other members are in the process of completing all requirements.

      Basic Skills & Knowledge Essays

      We are so impressed with the insights that members submitted in their essays for the Basic Skills & Knowledge Exam. We have included two of them here.

      Topic Choice #1: Discuss the U.S. Supreme Court Case: FTC V North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners; as to how that case relates to Florida legal document preparers.

      Submitted by Jeanpaul Powell of Elegant Document Solutions, LLC in Volusia County:

      The North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners regulates dentists and dental hygienists in North Carolina. According to the FTC, dentists complained to the board that non-dentists offered teeth whitening services. It should come as no surprise that non-dentists (e.g., kiosks in shopping malls) charge less than dentists for teeth whitening. The board responded by ordering the non-dentists to stop whitening teeth. The FTC found that the board’s actions violated the Sherman Act because they constituted a “combination” or “conspiracy, in restraint of trade.” Specifically, the members of the board tried to exclude non-dentists from the market for teeth whitening services, and the dentists who sat on the board stood to gain from excluding competitors from that market.

      At issue is an often invoked provision of the Sherman Act that stipulates that state bar associations cannot police/litigate actions against non-regulated competitors in the market place for a host of reasons, but in this case the specific clause being acted upon is the “bar associations are completely comprised of lawyers”. Currently, the Florida bar, and many other bar associations across the nation despite Supreme Court Guidance to the contrary, aggressively interfere with any business/person/entity which it believes is engaged in the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) primarily because of the shared revenue base.
      Document Preparers and lawyers compete for the lower end of the legal consumer dollar spectrum. This includes the vast majority of Family Court, Immigration, small civil, and other areas where the consumer base is largely lower middle class and below.

      Taking that into account, and agreeing that the “higher end of the legal consumer dollar spectrum” is still being exclusively served by Bar Association members, why would the bar so aggressively pursue and sometimes harass the delivery of quality legal services to the consumer?

      The increased quantity/quality of available ABA members to service the high end legal marketplace is so saturated that the profit margin (and there is definitely very fuzzy logic involved in determining a viable margin for every firm) decline has forced the established legal community to aggressively compete for that consumer dollar that had been previously underserved. Arguably, among the results of that “under-serving” over the years is the staggering prison population and its related woes.

      The challenge is an effort for Bar Associations simply to stay profitable without doing any real market development. I believe that there will be continued challenges to the Sherman Act until such time as Bar Associations across the nation begin to sit down at the table with the “Pro Se Legal” community, and the people that service that segment of the population, and agree to begin a discussion that allows us to fully participate in servicing the entire legal community, nationwide. But that’s just my opinion, and I am just one document preparer.

      ***

      Submitted by Christine Marinkovich of Affordable Divorce Source, Inc. in Broward County:

      Topic Choice #4: Explain how you believe you, your business, and Florida legal document preparers make Florida a better place to live.

      My name is Christine Marinkovich and I am the owner of Affordable Divorce Source, Inc. We are a non-lawyer, legal document preparation service assisting those people who either cannot afford a lawyer, do not qualify for legal aid or simply choose to represent themselves. There is a very large group of people living in our state that truly need our non-lawyer services. I am proud to say that I am a member of the Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers. As a legal document preparer I am able to help so many people with navigating through all the legal forms, with the filing process and having someone that won’t charge them a fortune to access their legal rights in the courts.

      Throughout the years of doing legal document preparation, I have helped hundreds of people. Most of my customers have come from referrals due to the fact that most people do not realize that having a document preparer help them is even an option. Some customers come to me after exhausting all their funds on lawyers, some from being frustrated with the lack of service they have received elsewhere and some just because they either can’t afford or don’t want to pay the fees that lawyers charge. Being able to help these people gives me a huge amount of satisfaction because I have been in their shoes and truly understand how to help them. The fact that almost every customer I have ever had has thanked me for helping them and then refers others to me shows what a positive experience those customers have had.

      The FALDP has made a huge impact on our ability to get the word out about access to legal rights and help with legal document preparation. Legal document preparers are a very needed field in this world and yet we are a very unknown commodity. Throughout time, the lawyers and the Florida BAR have managed to brainwash consumers to believe that the only way they can get anything done in the courts is to hire a lawyer. This simply is not true! Everyone has the legal right to file a case in the court and have their say without the use of a lawyer. I will continue to help people as a legal document preparer and proudly proclaim my membership with the FALDP in order to educate and assist as many people as I can.

      FALDP Certification

      The page explaining the basics of certification is on our site - visit: FALDP Certification All exams are now available and will continue to be available through May 16, 2016. Many of our members have already successfully completed them. Each exam allows three attempts, and requires a passing score of 75%. The exams are linked to the Member's Area page. Please contact us - staff@faldp.org - if you have forgotten your password.

      After May 16, 2016 the exams will be closed, and if you did not take and pass the exams, you will need to wait until next February to take them. Members may certify in as many focus areas as they desire, and must pass at lease one focus area exam to be considered certified.All exams are now available and will continue to be available through May 16, 2016. Many of our members have already successfully completed them. Each exam allows three attempts, and requires a passing score of 75%. The immigration exam, initially displayed a "Pass" for a score of 50%. If you "passed" that exam at 50%, please retake the exam. The exams are linked to the Member's Area page. Please contact us - staff@faldp.org - if you have forgotten your password

      After May 16, 2016 the exams will be closed, and if you did not take and pass the exams, you will need to wait until next February to take them. Members may certify in as many focus areas as they desire, and must pass at lease one focus area exam to be considered certified.

      The third requirement for certification is completing 10 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Please keep track of your CEUs. We are tracking them as well, but please do not rely on us alone to track them.

      All of these certification requirements must be met before your certification is final. Once you have met all requirements and renew your membership, you will be issued your certification badge. We are building a page on our site so that consumers can verify your certification.

      We suggest that you take advantage of the FALDP Certification now. Next year, beginning February 1, 2017 we will reopen the testing center and there will be a cost for testing. We expect that the Basic Skills & Knowledge Exam will cost $50.; and each Focus Area Exam will be an additional $50.

      ***Certification Exams Extended One More Day***


      Monarch Web Strategies

      TO

      Gorilla Marketing has evolved into Monarch Web Strategies. For the time being, the services are similar to Gorilla Marketing - ad placement for FALDP members throughout the internet for $50 per month. There is no contract and no set up fee. Monarch places your ad on free classified sites to drive traffic to your website and invite your potential customers to contact you directly for services. In the near future Monarch Web Strategies will expand their services to also include posting your information on geographic specific sites. This service is important for members who have a bricks and mortar storefront, and those who travel to meet with consumers face to face.

      Virtual Providers

      The Virtual Provider designation is an upgrade to your membership. For just $30 annually your information and services can be displayed in 66 of the 67 Florida counties. We exclude Miami-Dade because of their local form requirement, and the difficulty in serving consumers virtually there. If your business model includes assisting consumers over the phone and over the internet, advertising your services as a virtual provider will expand your reach and increase your income. Become a Virtual Provider here.
      VIRTUAL PROVIDER - ANNUAL FEE $30


      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.


      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
    Back to Back Issues Page