|Members & Friends:
The FALDP Docket
Volume 8 Issue 2; February 2018
Members and Friends
This is our monthly newsletter. We publish this for the benefit of FALDP members, legal document preparers, and friends.
FALDP 8th Annual Conference May 5th
El Cinco De Mayo!
We have scheduled our 8th Annual FALDP Conference for Saturday, May 5, 2018. The conference will be held at the Fountain Beach Resort in Daytona Beach. Our agenda and guest speakers will be substantially the same - a representative from the non-profit lender that we refer to, and David Ayala who will be speaking to us about criminal justice reform, second chance workshops, and the voting rights bill on the ballot in November. We have recently confirmed a third guest speaker, one of our long time members, Sheila Smith. Sheila will explain her services as a certified business coach, and her offering of a free coaching session to FALDP members. The $95 conference fee is the same, and if you did not previously register for the conference, we will offer the same combination of conference fee and membership/ renewal fee as we usually do - $170. for both. In addition we are waiving the $29.00 fee for all who sign up for the conference and join as a new member or renew their
membership at the same time.
Accommodations at the Fountain Beach Resort for conference attendees are $89. per night. We encourage you to register for the conference and make your reservations early, as May is a busier time in Daytona Beach than our usual September or October time slots. The discount code for accommodations will be provided to you once you register for the conference. Although there is no public event that weekend (besides our conference), spring in general is busier than the fall.So, make your plans and register early.
For those of you who registered for the conference in September, and did not request a refund - your membership renewal fee will be waived. You know who you are - and so do we and we appreciate you.And since your membership fee is waived, you will need to submit payment for the mandatory "Avoid UPL!" course.
This year the central theme for
our conference is:
WHAT Can We Do?
WHAT - The specific "what" we do is prepare documents, explain procedure, and provide legal information to Florida pro se litigants. But, we do far more.
CAN - We CAN do much more than prepare documents, explain procedure, and provide legal information. We can change people's lives in positive ways. We help people move on with their lives. A bankruptcy petition lets someone start over with a blank financial slate - debt free. A divorce helps people end a relationship gone sour. And immigration documents help people breathe easier, knowing that they are on the right path.
WE - We are nonlawyer document preparers helping people solve their life problems by providing the prepared documents, legal information, and explanation of court and government procedures that consumers are desperate to know.
DO - We DO all these things, all day everyday, making Florida a better
place to live. The fact that we don't and cannot provide legal advice or representation is not a hindrance to the positive things that we do.
? - What Can We Do? What else can we bring and provide that will assist Florida residents, pro se litigants, and consumers move on with their lives? Join us at the conference - we'll talk about it.
Conference registration is available on our
Annual Conference Page.
Register early so that you will not be shut out. Seats are limited. Also, the Fountain Beach Resort is busier in May than it is in the fall, and while you are not at all required to stay at the Fountain Beach Resort, it is a great deal at $89. per night.
Watch videos instead of webinars
We apologize for our lack of FALDP webinars in recent months. Although I believe a central core of members find them worthwhile and instructive, we are in the process of producing a video series instead. Some of the videos will be posted on our site within the Members Only area, and others will be posted on various pages. You can still earn CEUs as you would for attending webinars by watching these videos. Watch the video, leave a comment, and you'll receive one CEU that can apply toward your FALDP Certification for each acceptable comment. Limit one comment per video.
"Acceptable comments" means something more than "nice video" or "good job". An acceptable comment makes a real comment or asks a real question about the content of the video or subject. Then take a screen shot once your comment is posted (they should post automatically) and email it to us - email@example.com to receive credit for watching.
Divorce & Paternity Preparedness Training
No one begins a marriage or relationship planning for it to end. The fact is that some marriages and some relationships don't last. Depending on the length of the marriage or relationship, the couple's lives may be deeply intertwined. Untangling the many aspects of any relationship takes forethought and careful consideration. When there are children of the marriage or relationship the requirement to think and plan ahead is even more important. The lives that a couple brought into this world should not be permanently damaged because their parents could not continue in the relationship.
FALDP is in the process of developing a consumer course that will help people who are at the beginning stages of a break-up or contemplating a break-up. Our course is designed to help people sort through the debris to focus on the truly important and productive aspects of what their new life could look like.
This course is not one on one coaching. This course
is also not document preparation. And, this course is definitely NOT legal advice or representation. There is absolutely no obligation to purchase anything else after completing the course. After the course is completed students will be referred to a FALDP member document preparer for document preparation, or one of our referral partners who has agreed to provide life coaching, divorce doula, or mediation services to our online students.
Once our course is launched, we will need member document preparers to refer these consumers to. These will be preferred customers as they will already be educated about their needs.
Learn more on our
Divorce & Paternity Preparedness Page
We are adding an entirely new course rather than updating our Intro Course. Our Intro Course is fine as far as it goes, the New UPL Course will be mandatory, and the Intro Course will remain substantially the same.
New mandatory UPL compliance course available now for registration within our Members Only area. The cost is $29.00. For the first time we are requiring members to complete a compliance course about the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). Despite our best efforts at distributing information about UPL and how to avoid it, we find that members need better and more specific information. We have never tried to set ourselves up as the “UPL Police” and have no intention of doing so now. Rather we seek to insure that all members have all the information that we have regarding UPL. We found that our course, “Introduction to Preparing Florida Legal Documents”, doesn't go far enough in explaining the vagaries of UPL. So we removed some of the UPL information from the
Intro Course and added it to the New UPL Course.
MORE INFORMATION: Beginning in 2018, all members are required to take the New UPL Course - “Avoid UPL!” either upon joining FALDP, or at the time of membership renewal. The course fee is $29. The course will be required every year, but as with all of our courses, once you've taken the course, you can always return to it at no charge. So all members will pay for the course once (or take the course for free as a special offer) , but take the course every year. We intend to add new content regularly.
We believe that it is worthwhile to emphasize the ongoing issue of compliance with the rules surrounding the unauthorized practice of law. It is far too easy for a document preparer to unknowingly step over the line into unauthorized practice. Vigilance always.
Have You Been Shopped?
Have you ever had that sinking feeling after hanging up the phone with a new prospective customer that something was just not right? Did you then mentally replay the entire conversation word for word hoping that you didn't say something that might sound like you were engaging in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL)? It's a sinking feeling alright, and one you surely want to avoid.
First, always remember to say these words at the beginning of a conversation even if you have to interrupt your potential customer. I am not an attorney, I am a legal document preparer. And what that means is I can prepare legal documents, explain procedure, and give you legal information, but I cannot offer advice or representation. See, it even rhymes.
But, still, that sinking feeling … Maybe the customer knew too much legal terminology. We know there are pro se litigants out there who are quite sophisticated, so that's not always a tell tale sign. Some pro se's
are down right litigious and seriously missed their calling, they should be attorneys themselves. But, that begs the question if the pro se is so knowledgeable why would they need a document preparer anyway.
Another possible sign of a shopper is their being very well spoken and professional sounding. Again, plenty of our customers are professional people and are quite articulate. So, not necessarily a tell tale sign.
Here's one though that is an absolute tell tale sign. If your prospective customer is talking about their ongoing case, ask for the case number. And look it up while you're on the phone with them if you can. If that prospective customer won't or can't tell you a case number, chances are high that you're being shopped.
I think some of the UPL shopping episodes could be classified as entrapment. UPL being a crime and all. But, hard to prove, and it is an affirmative defense to a UPL allegation. By the time you
have a chance to offer any sort of affirmative defense, you're in the middle of an investigation – exactly what you don't want.
Be vigilant. Always say the disclaimer, even if they told you they were calling from your website or ad, and you know full well it says right there that you're not an attorney and cannot offer advice or representation. Say the words anyway.
I would like to create a petition to post on change.org requesting that the Florida Bar and their UPL committees refrain from shopping us, refrain from investigating us unless there was an actual consumer complaint, codify the UPL rules into some kind of understandable rule set, and disallow random attorneys from filing a UPL complaint for no other reason than that they don't like document preparers. If you're willing to help me draft [I can call it a draft here] such a petition it would count for a full year of CEUs to go toward your FALDP Certification. Call or write – 800-515-
0496 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Free Business Coaching
One of our long time members and certified coach, Sheila Smith, is offering a free 30 minute business coaching session to FALDP members who register for the "Avoid UPL!" course. And the same offer of one free coaching session is available for those who sign up for ad placement services through Monarch Web Strategies here -
MWS ad placement services and sign up
and learn more about Monarch Web Strategies here -
During the coaching sessions any number of topics can be discussed. Such as avoiding UPL, handling difficult customers, how to increase profitability, what's holding them back from becoming successful, etc. Anything related to a member's business development is fair game for discussion.
Get Documented Initiative
We need more experienced document preparers to participate in our Get Documented Initiative. We call participating members our “I-Team”. If you applied before, but did not have enough experience preparing immigration documents, please apply again. You may now have completed enough sets of immigration documents to be able to participate. Our participating document preparers are dedicated to helping consumers work through the immigration process. And, all of our participating document preparers immigrated to the United States from another country or have close family members who did. They know about the process personally and first hand, and are committed to helping others jump through the hoops and clear the hurdles.
I-Team members can refer consumers to a non-profit lender who may be able to offer the consumer a low interest loan for immigration purposes. The loan amounts available are $700. up to $20,000.
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Please submit your application through the Members Only area.
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
here. If you have not renewed your virtual provider status since May 2016, its past time to renew. Virtual provider status runs with membership, the time lines are the same. We will send invoices to Virtual Providers.
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.
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FALDP Contact Information:
Main number – (941)237-0951
Toll free - (800)515-0496
Email – email@example.com
PLEASE LINK YOUR SITE TO WWW.FALDP.ORG