Paralegal Versus Certified Legal Document Preparer
“Paralegal” is the most common term used for an Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer. However, a “paralegal” is defined by the State Bar of Arizona as a person with legal knowledge, training and experience, who works “under” the supervision of an attorney. Many people do not understand this, including some paralegals. A Certified Legal Document Preparer is certified by the Arizona Supreme Court to provide services to the public “without” the supervision of an attorney. Without this certification, a paralegal preparing documents for an individual or a company, without the supervision of an attorney, is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The Arizona Supreme Court certifies and monitors the people and companies preparing legal documents for the sole purpose of protecting the public.
Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparers:
- Are allowed to prepare any legal documents for the public, as long as they do not provide legal advice or attempt to represent someone in court.
- Will be found more commonly providing assistance in the areas of Family, Bankruptcy, Estate Planning and Business Law.
- Are providing assistance only, as you are essentially the attorney of your own case. A certified legal document preparer works for someone similar to how a paralegal would work for an attorney. You are responsible for your own documents, the same as an attorney would be responsible for your case or documents if you were represented.
- Are not bound by the attorney-client privilege. If ordered by the court, a certified legal document preparer has to disclose information.
Our Certified Legal Document Preparers have been trained as paralegals by attorneys or by paralegals that have worked for attorneys.
Arizona Code of Judicial Administration §7-208 L (2)(a) requires all certified legal document preparers to attend a minimum of ten hours of approved continuing education each year, between the period of May 1st and April 30th of the following year. A total of no less than twenty hours of continuing education must be completed on or before April 30th of every odd-numbered year. The continuing education requirements do not apply to certified legal document preparer business entities. Hours of participation are not transferable to certification periods other than the one in which the participation occurred.