By: Doug Nebel, Certified Legal Document Preparer (CLDP)
Certified Legal Document Preparer
A certified legal document preparer (CLDP) is someone who is certified by the state to help prepare legal documents for people who do not have lawyers. Some of the requirements to become a CLDP include passing a background and fingerprint check, passing a rigorous examination, and having at least two years of law-related experience (usually by working at a law firm or a court) and/or at least 24 credits of law-related education. Because of this last requirement, many CLDPs are also paralegals. Unlike a paralegal, however, a CLDP does not work under the supervision of a lawyer.
A CLDP must make it clear to any customer that the CLDP is not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice. However, according to the Code that governs CLDPs, he/she can give a customer “general factual information pertaining to legal rights, procedures, or options available.” For example, a CLDP cannot answer the question, “Should I ask for spousal maintenance?” but he/she can show the customer the statute regarding what the court considers when deciding whether to grant spousal maintenance (in this case, ARS 25-319).
Why Would I Use a CLDP?
In a family court matter like a divorce, unless the relationship is particularly contentious and/or the community property/debt situation is particularly complex, a person may benefit from using a CLDP, especially at the beginning stages of the case; after all, a CLDP is less expensive than hiring a lawyer, and many of the documents required to begin a divorce proceeding may seem complicated and intimidating. In short, you may save money but still rest easy knowing your documents are correct.
How Does Access Legal’s CLDP Help You?
When I decided to become a paralegal and CLDP, I focused on Billie Tarascio and her firm, Modern Law. I believed in Billie’s vision of low-cost, pay-as-you-go legal services. I was lucky enough to join her firm right at the beginning of the creation of Access Legal, a DIY legal-document-generating software platform. Access Legal is a business that has already helped many people with their family law proceedings, and I am proud to have been a part of that.
Access Legal customers get complimentary access to CDLPs including me to answer questions on their documents. The Access Legal software makes it simple for people to create a free account, input their information just once, and then generate the documents they need specific to their particular case. Of course, if they have any questions about next steps in their case, we’re standing by to offer assistance.
Billie Tarascio’s creation of Access Legal’s CLDP services has allowed her to expand on her vision of improving Maricopa county citizen’s access to legal justice.