Working as a Notary Public is unique in that the job is connected to a number of different fields. One day, you could be helping a family close on a new house, the next you may be authenticating a signature to help a company involved in a merger, then, on Friday you might be helping a Veteran access her or his benefits. It’s a great big world out there!
With so many papers crossing your desk, you’ve probably developed a good feeling for how documents are put together. If this is the case and you have experience working in law, working as an alternative legal service provider or ALSP may be a great fit for you. Most of the papers crossing your desk were likely drafted by a lawyer. However, the legal profession involves mountains of paperwork and ALSPs serve as much needed support in the preparation and general handling of legal documents.
The term “alternative legal service provider” is a new one– only adopted in the last couple of months. The job was formerly called a “legal document assistant” or LDA. This distinction was important when doing research, as the position has been around for twenty years under the former moniker. According to the Sacramento County Clerk, A legal document assistant is a non-lawyer authorized to prepare legal documents for people representing themselves in legal matters. Unlike paralegals or legal assistants, who perform substantive legal work under the supervision of an attorney, only certain types of legal services can be performed by an LDA. The position itself is relatively new. In the year 2000, a new law passed in California that allowed non-lawyers to distribute legal materials that have been published or approved by a lawyer, prepare legal documents under the direction of their customers, and file those legal documents in the appropriate courts. This development benefits everyone involved. It helps lawyers by reducing their already large workload, it provides customers with a lower-cost alternative to a lawyer, and it allows a legally minded individual an outlet to work in this lucrative field.
To get a little more insight into NPS’s ALSP class, I spoke with our instructor CJ Silberman. CJ graduated from John F. Kennedy University School of Law, then received his ADR certificate from Stanford Law school. He then acted as of counsel to Melvin M. Belli. He’s taught law school since 1991 at various institutions including San Francisco Law School and Golden Gate University Law School.
CJ sees the Alternative Legal Service Provider profession as, above all, a wonderful business opportunity. In his course, he covers revocable living trusts, filing unlawful detainers and uncontested divorces. He gives an overview of preparing eviction paperwork for landlords and defenses for tenants. Students learn how to draft business contracts, understand the essential elements of these contracts, create LLCs, S Corps, and C Corps, and even negotiate consumer debt. Once a person has an overview, Silberman suggests finding a niche to focus on– such as forming business entities.
In order to enroll in the course, students must have a high school diploma with two years of legal experience; a baccalaureate degree with one year of legal experience; or a certificate of completion from a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association. Legal experience would be substantiated by a letter from a lawyer confirming that the work that was done was significant, more than just filing documents, but client contact and document creation. A Legal Document Assistant must maintain a $25,000 bond and register with the county.
Notary Public Seminars, Inc. has been a leading course provider in California for over 15 years. For our current course offerings visit our live seminars page here: