10th annual faldp conference

Our September 14th Conference was a huge success. And we'd like to thank each of our members who attended and a special thank you to our speakers. Our speakers were engaging and ever so interesting. At the end of each presentation we had a question and answer session. Photos of the conference attendees and the after party are on our Annual Conference Page. On this page, we've summarized the highlights of each of our speaker's presentations, along with some additional takeaways about our future plans and direction for FALDP.

Conference Takeaways

We invited Trish to speak about domestic violence to raise awareness and to find out how document preparers may be able to help. Trish was an amazing speaker, and shared so much great information with us that we ran out of time. If we had not had an agenda to keep us on track, we could have happily listened to her for hours. Many of the conference attendees were not familiar with what is commonly referred to as the “Power and Control Wheel”. Its a visual aid that makes it clear how much more than physical violence is encompassed in domestic violence. There are many other types of domestic abuse – financial abuse, verbal abuse, isolation, threats, and more. Trish is the CEO of the Family Life Center of Flagler. We learned that there are 46 certified domestic violence centers in Florida that among other services offer free counseling to victims. Those centers can be found here - https://www.fcadv.org/local-center-services at the site for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Document preparers are encouraged to get involved with their local Domestic Violence Center. There are opportunities to learn more, to volunteer, and to become an advocate. Domestic violence affects people of all ages and income levels. However, due to the shame of being a victim, some people never seek help. The victim shame is that many people who lack understanding of domestic violence, persistently blame the victim. Here is one part of my personal story - https://f-a-l-d-p.blogspot.com/2014/09/domestic-violence-is-real.html . If you're ever tempted to blame the victim of domestic violence, consider whether you would also blame the victim of a serial killer.

BioTrish Giaccone CEO of the Family Life Center of Flagler County, began working at the Family Life Center in November 2007 as an Outreach Advocate. She filled many roles becoming the Executive Director in June 2011 and ultimately the Chief Executive Officer in 2015. Trish has a Bachelor’s Degree in Supervision and Management and Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health from Stetson University. She is a Florida Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern and a National Board Certified Counselor. Trish has provided training regarding Dynamics of Domestic Violence, the Power and Control Wheel, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Healthy Relationships and Cultural Competency to law enforcement agencies, the Department of Children and Families, Community Partnership for Children employees, mental health service providers and the general population for over 12 years. Trish partnered with Daytona State College for a 3 year federal grant as an expert panelist regarding Teen Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Sexual Assault. Trish serves on the Flagler Cares Board of Directors and the United Way of Volusia & Flagler Counties Board of Directors and has served as a past member of the: Flagler County Sexual Assault Task Force, Steering Committee of the United Way of Volusia Flagler Counties, Flagler County Safe Havens Visitation Center Core Committee, Flagler Homeless Task Force, past-president of the Flagler Business Women, past chair of the Flagler County Domestic Violence Task Force and past board member of the Flagler County Family Assistance Center a/k/a the Cold Weather Shelter. Trish is also a graduate of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Flagler Class 21.  

We invited Candra to speak because of the high number of Spanish speakers in our membership, and within Florida in general. However, please know that Spanish is not the only language where court interpreters are used and needed, nor is Spanish the only second language within our membership. In addition to Spanish, we have members who speak Portugese, Creole, and Italian. We learned about the different ways court interpreters are required to interpret, and the rigorous requirements to become certified as a court interpreter. An interpreter for all “due process” cases is provided by the court. Due process cases include all criminal proceedings, guardianship, and a list of other types of cases where substantial rights are at risk. The legal tenet is that a person is allowed to be present at his court hearing. And, if that person cannot understand the language and the court proceedings, he is, then, technically, not present.

For those cases where an interpreter is not routinely appointed by the court, a litigant can make the request to have an interpreter appointed. The court may either appoint a staff interpreter, or inform the litigant that it is his responsibility to hire an interpreter to interpret on his behalf. Frequently, however there are not enough certified court interpreters to meet the demand and an interpreter without certification is allowed to interpret. It is left to the discretion of the court to approve each specific court interpreter who is not certified.

Candra's presentation was extremely informative. Several of our bilingual attendees now plan to go through the process to become a certified court interpreter.

Bio - Candra Erickson has over 15 years of experience as a court interpreter. She is currently the Supervising Court Interpreter for the 7th Judicial Circuit. In 2006, she began her career in Florida’s State Court System in Orlando in the 9th Circuit as a staff interpreter and also worked in Gainesville, FL in the 8th Circuit as the Court Interpreter Program Specialist. Prior to moving to Florida, Ms. Erickson worked as a contractor in the South Carolina courts and for private attorneys and agencies. She has co-taught a variety of topics related to her profession, particularly Court Interpreting Ethics and most recently was a co-faculty presenter at the Florida Court Personnel Institute for Court Management course on Purposes and Responsibilities of the Court. Ms. Erickson was appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to serve a 3 year renewable term on the Court Interpreter Certification Board and participates in various sub-committees related to the provision and regulation of court interpreting services. She is also a member of the Virtual Remote Interpreting Shared Governance Committee and has actively participated in the integration of video remote interpreting in her own circuit and statewide. Additionally, Ms. Erickson taught English as a Second Language while living abroad in her family’s home country of Bolivia. She is currently completing coursework towards an A. S. in Paralegal Studies to expand her knowledge of the legal field. Ms. Erickson obtained her A.S. in Education from Georgia Perimeter College, as well as her B.A in Spanish and M.A. in Bilingual Court Interpreting from the College of Charleston.

We invited Richard to speak at our conference because he is a pioneer in the legal document preparation industry, and has been working for the rights of pro se litigants for over 30 years. Our association is pleased to have him as a member, and we consider him and his business to be a valuable asset to our association and its members. Richard spoke about the issues surrounding UPL enforcement as well as the various nonlawyer certification strategies of nonlawyers in other states. He particularly drilled down on the Limited Legal License Technicians, which are often referred to as “Triple LT's” or “LLLT's”. Washington State and a few others have adopted this licensing scheme, but it is fraught with problems. Two of the identified problems with the LLLT system are that the entry requirements are quite stringent; and whether, because of this, the fees charged will truly benefit consumers. Other problems are identified in a research study and paper by

Rebecca M. Donaldson. You can download that paper here - https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/sulr/vol42/iss1/2/

Richard also discussed the ABA's Best Practices Guidelines which we encourage our members to substantially comply with. Some highlights of those best practices are here - 


Richard maintains that customers want fixed prices, speed, convenience, better technology, and a face to face experience.

 Bio - Richard Granat - Richard is a lawyer by training, but not licensed to practice law in Florida. He is the founder and Managing Partner of MD FAMILY LAWYER the first virtual law firm in the State of Maryland focused on divorce and family law, which he still runs from his home in Port St. Lucie, FL. He also started one of the first web-based automated legal forms services in 2001, (SmartLegalForms, since sold).

His newest project is JusticeXpress, a legal solutions company for Florida’s residents, (not a law firm), based in Port. St. Lucie, Florida.

Richard was formerly the President and Dean of the Philadelphia Institute for Paralegal Training, the first paralegal education institution in the United States. He was a member of the management team that created the U.S. Legal Services Program when it was housed at the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity (“the original poverty program”), and the Founder of The Peoples Law Library of Maryland, one of the first statewide legal information websites.

Richard was formerly the Co-Chair of the eLawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association , is a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, and a member of the Board of ResponsiveLaw, the consumer’s voice in the legal system. He also serves on the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.

Richard was named a “Legal Rebel” by the American Bar Association Journal in 2009; and also was awarded the Louis M. Brown Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovation in the Delivery of Legal Services  and the James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering in 2013.

Richard is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law (J.D. with Honors), the University of Pennsylvania (M.S. in Organizational Development.), and Lehigh University (B.A. with Honors)

A Look Ahead

  • Now offering affiliate program for referring consumers to the www.MyFloridaParentingCourse.com Parenting Course. $3.00 for full payment [$29.99]; and $1.50 for discounted low income payment [$14.99]. Submit an invoice for the previous month, payment sent to you by the 10th of the month.
  • Spanish version of the Parenting Course is in progress now. Once we have it approved and published we'll invite members to affiliate with us in the same manner as the English version.
  • New display of FALDP logo online. Display our logo on your site or on social media using a short video that we provide you at no charge, hosted on the FALDP You Tube channel. This new display style is an option for current members who already have a static logo on their site. Going forward new members will be presented the new video display option as their only option to display the FALDP logo on their site, and for use online.

New courses

  • Child Support
  • Family Law Issues

Adding Information to Existing Courses

  • Building a Better Business – is now being revised to include more information about marketing;
  • Post-Conviction Document Preparation – will be revised to include information about Romeo & Juliet petitions

Bio - Ruth Tick, is the Founder and Director of the Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers. Over 20 years ago she broke free from a violent and abusive marriage; and spent many months in and out of court before the divorce was final. Never able to afford counsel, she learned first hand the difficulty that pro se litigants face in navigating the court system. Inspired by the experience, she enrolled in the University of Central Florida with the long term goal of attending law school. She graduated with a B.A. in Legal Studies in 2002. Due to family commitments, she was unable to attend law school, and instead earned an M.S. in Criminal Justice, also at the University of Central Florida. After operating her document preparation business for some time, she founded the Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers in 2010, and has absolutely no regrets that she never attended law school. Ms. Tick fully enjoys the privilege of helping consumers with their documents, helping other document preparers grow their businesses, and supporting Florida's growing legal document preparation industry.  

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