In 2000, California signed into law a bill called AB 1761. The bill basically did two things: one it changed the way a paralegal/legal assistant can do business with members of the public, requiring us to now be called a Legal Document Assistant. And two, it set forth specific training requirements paralegals must meet while working with their attorney clients.
For consumers (non-attorneys) this simply means that a paralegal is now called a Legal Document Assistant and we cannot advertise to you as a paralegal. We are required to post a bond and register in the county where our physical business is located. As a consumer, it is important to know the role of your Legal Document Assistant. The law clearly distinguishes the two titles. A paralegal, can only advertise as a paralegal to prospective attorney clients. Paralegals do not work directly with the public. Per AB 1761, a paralegal does not have clients, their attorneys have clients. In other words, to advertise paralegal services to a prospective client for whom the individual can only type legal forms is misleading and illegal. Additionally, the law requires specific training requirements to be met by paralegals which are then reported to their supervising attorney.
I am commonly asked if I am a paralegal. Most of my clients are still seeking a paralegal when they find me. However, I do think this will soon evolve as more and more LDAs introduce themselves under the proper title.
Sacramento County Law Library for more info: