The FALDP Docket
Volume 2; Issue 11
Webinar Schedule for 2012
Please note, the new Winter 2012 Webinar Schedule is posted on our site:
# February - The Business of Legal Document Preparation - Structure, Marketing, Best Practices
# March - Bankruptcy - Chapter 7
# April - UPL Summit - Quarterly Update
# May - Family Law - Modifications
As always the UPL Summit is no charge, and is strictly for members and invited guests of FALDP -- it is not open to the public. Premium Members may attend at no charge; $10 charge for Basic Members. The date for an Orientation Webinar for our online courses will be announced.
An Introductory course - Introduction to Florida Legal Document Preparation for preparing family law documents in Florida, and Preparing Florida Divorce Documents are open for registration.
Bankruptcy Chapter 7 Petition Preparation
Our Bankruptcy Petition Preparation - Chapter 7 online course is set to be released in February.
We are working on the instructional design for the bankruptcy petition preparer's course, and the family law courses. There will be a total of six courses available.
Registration is open for the Intro course, and the Divorce course. The courses are geared toward legal document preparers who are new to the industry; new to Florida; or legal document preparers who want to expand their knowledge base. For LDP's new to the industry, or new to Florida, the Intro course is a requirement and a prerequisite for enrollment in the Dissolution of Marriage course.
Our Growing Library
"You've Been Sued! --
How To Prepare an Answer to a Civil Law Suit in Florida"
The back cover blurb:
"This FALDP Self-Help Guide is a vital resource for any Floridian who has been sued in civil court and intends to "go pro se". Even if you plan to hire an attorney, educating yourself about the procedures, and terminology can only help you in the long run."
You can order the book from our site bookstore at:
Angela Angelovic and Beth Hart joined FALDP just prior to our Second Annual Conference this past September. It was perfect timing -- they were in the process of creating their new business, Divorce Docs. The pair told me that their attendance at the Conference was invaluable, both for the information they absorbed, and the interaction with the other members. In fact, they said that the one thing they would suggest to a new document preparer, is to attend the annual conference. The opportunity to see how other people run their businesses; what to do and what not to do; and learning from experienced people helped them start their business in the right direction.
Their business model combines divorce document preparation with mediation. They recently attended mediation training in Orlando – the same mediation required for Supreme court certification. According to Ms. Angelovic they chose this hybrid business model because, when she divorced, this was the type of help she would have liked. With Divorce Docs, they try to create a calm environment for their customers to peacefully discuss the issues. As mediators they can help their customers stay on track and make decisions without confrontation.
Meet the Members
The “Meet the Members” page on our site is in progress.Interviews will be placed on the site next to your Membership Directory information, a photo of you if you send one, and your business card if you like. One of the suggestions from the “back of the class” at the conference was that we should place members business cards on www.faldp.org . We think that's a great idea, and so have evolved the idea into this plan. Yet another way to advertise and promote.
A Look Back
The following articles are some editor's favorites from past issues of the FALDP Docket. As always we welcome your comments.
Under Promise -- Over Deliver
In many industries, deadlines are a fact of life. Developing time management skills will not only help you sleep better at night, but will also help keep your customers happy. My first career was in the printing industry. At one time or another over the course of about 10 years, I worked at nearly every position -- press operator, typesetter, sales, graphic designer, bindery, and manager. As in legal document preparation, we created custom products for the public. A common response to the question, when do you need this finished, was -- yesterday.
We had some rules to live by that translate well to legal document preparation: Who owns the problem? Don’t allow your customer’s lack of planning to become your problem. When a panicked customer wants you to prepare an Answer today because today is day 20; and if you don’t help he is sure to be in default -- plan how to handle it. As the business owner, you are in control. Naturally, you want to serve your customer to the best of your ability, but you don’t need to pull a rabbit out of your hat. You can agree to a fast turnaround and add on rush charges. You can turn down the work.
Never agree to a deadline that you cannot meet. Delivering work after the deadline or asking your customer for more time is unprofessional. Avoid this at all costs. Say what you can do, when you can deliver, and stick to it.
Under promise, over deliver. Negotiate deadlines with your customers as far out as you can. Then deliver early if at all possible. You will be a hero. If you cannot deliver early and only meet your deadline, you have still kept your side of the bargain, and so, still have a happy customer.
Reprinted from FALDP November 2010
Child Support vs Child Visitation
All of us who prepare family law documents have seen this scenario. There is a child support order without any child visitation order to go along with it. Usually the child support order is an Administrative Order through the Department of Revenue. Usually the unwed father is obligated to pay support. Often the unwed mother is collecting food stamps and temporary assistance for needy families. Sometimes the unwed father is obligated to pay retroactive child support even though the couple and children were together. There is often little that these men can do to protect their rights. At the hearing before the General Magistrate no one tells them what to do to enforce their paternal rights, they are simply ordered to pay x amount every month no matter what. If they fall behind in their support payments, administrative sanctions begin. Their driver's license is suspended, their bank account is levied, and finally they go to jail. Even if incarcerated for failure to pay support the meter keeps running. Who says we don't put debtors in prison in America?
Technically, the incarceration is for contempt of court for failing to follow a court order – the child support order. For the men caught in this system, it doesn't feel like a technicality, it feels like they didn't even get a chance.
I realize that it is beyond the guidelines of the Department of Revenue to concern itself with child visitation. My question is: why? It seems reasonable that more people would be more compliant in paying child support if they also were offered assistance in pursuing their right to see their children.
What do you think?
Reprinted from FALDP Docket April 2011
Culture of Professional Courtesy
As we grow as a professional association we have a golden opportunity to create our own culture. Many industries have cultural norms and idiosyncrasies that are unwritten rules of conduct between colleagues. For example, doctors give free medical care to other doctors and their families. It is this type of cooperation that I would like to nourish. I'm not necessarily suggesting that you give your work away – I'm asking that we strive to help one another.
If you ask me a question, and I know the answer, I'll always answer it. If you ask me how to find a form, and I have it, I'll always give it to you. If you ask me for some information, if I don't know, I'll always help you find it. I know you'll do the same for me.
We all have knowledge and information that a colleague may not have. If we can share that knowledge and information then we can all become better at what we do. We can multiply our knowledge exponentially by tapping into the knowledge of each other. A count of our members combined years of experience adds up to over 250 years. That's something.
We have members who have completed M.S. Degrees, J.D. Degrees, B.A. Degrees, and A.S. Degrees; coursework includes legal assisting, paralegal training, and criminal justice. We have members who have worked in law enforcement, and as paralegals.
I am thrilled to be part of a group of like-minded colleagues. For the first time ever, there are people who I can turn to when I'm stuck. I research, I find information, but sometimes there is so much information to sift through to find out what should be a simple answer to a simple question, that it's nice to have someone else to ask that might just know the exact case or statute I'm looking for right off the top of his or her head.
I encourage each of you to become subject matter experts, and to share information freely with one another. Never worry that if you share information with a colleague, that you might lose business if someone else knows what you know. It doesn't work that way. There is so much consumer demand for legal document preparation that we are unlikely to run out of customers -- ever!
People will always - have disputes; sue someone; get divorced; adopt children; face foreclosure; go bankrupt; start businesses; appeal SSI; evict tenants; settle estates; need wills; and immigrate. I know exactly how to prepare forms for some situations; for some situations I have some knowledge; and others I have no idea what to do.
You, our members, make up this association. It is your knowledge that creates our braintrust. Be proud of all you do. Be proud of your work assisting consumers in accessing their legal system.
Adapted from articles in January 2011 & February 2011 Docket.
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