FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Q. What is the difference between a Certified Legal Document Preparer (“CLDP”)and a Paralegal?
A. A CLDP is certified by the Arizona Supreme Court. He or she must have a certain level of education together with several years of legal office experience working directly under the supervision of an attorney. He or she undergoes an extensive background check, studies and sits for a comprehensive written exam and is only certified if approved by a vote of the Arizona Supreme Court Board of Certified Legal Document Preparers. A CLDP must take a minimum of twenty (20) hours of Continuing Legal Education classes/seminars during each two-year certification period.
A Paralegal has achieved a certain level of education and training through the performance of extensive legal work under attorney supervision. A Paralegal may not independently produce legal documents for use by a consumer in a legal matter.
Q. What may I expect to receive when obtaining the services of a Certified Legal Document Preparer?
A. Provided you are not represented by an attorney, a CLDP may provide you with general legal information related to your particular legal matter, general factual information regarding your legal rights and options and an explanation of court procedures. A CLDP may use a law library or perform other types of legal research to better provide you with all of your legal options, after which you decide what course of action you wish to pursue and which legal documents you want to file. A CLDP will then prepare the legal documents required in order to fulfill your request.
Q. What is a CLDP prevented from doing?
A. A CLDP cannot give legal advice, express personal or professional opinions or steer a customer/client toward a particular course of action but only provide all options for the customer/client to choose from and then prepare the appropriate legal documents. A CLDP cannot appear in court, sign documents on behalf of his/her customer/client or get involved in negotiations with the opposing party(ies) or counsel.
Q. What does it cost to hire a CDLP?
A. Costs vary on the type and scope of legal documents required in each individual case. However, most CLDPs charge a flat fee for their services and prices are usually found on the CLDP’s website or quoted through an email request. Since CLDPs are not appearing in court on your behalf or rendering legal advice, but simply providing legal information, options and legal documents, no large up-front retainers are required as is the case with most attorneys/law firms. CLDPs normally charge between 40 - 60% less than an attorney for preparation of pleadings related to an individual's case. All legal documents will be prepared specific to your case and not as generic forms.
Q. What is considered legal advice?
A. According to the Arizona Supreme Court , legal advice is “either a written or oral statement that interprets…the law…or recommends a specific course of action a person should take….legal proceeding”. It is also “applying the law to a person’s specific…circumstances” and “telling a…customer “what to do” rather than “how to do it”.
Q. What is considered legal information received from a CLDP?
A. According to the Arizona Supreme Court, legal information is “communication of facts about court procedures…including information contained in court records, examples of forms or pleadings…procedures, practices and due dates”. Further, “Legal information involves identifying available procedural options… court rules, court records and forms”.