Primary Resource: Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers
Paralegals vs. Nonlawyers in Florida – Article from Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Web Site.
Florida Registration Requirements:
The Florida Registered Paralegal Program “provides for voluntary registration
of paralegals who meet certain minimum educational, certification, or work experience
criteria and who abide by an established code of ethics in exchange for the ability to
refer to themselves as Florida Registered Paralegals.” The voluntary Florida
Registered Paralegal Program became effective March 1, 2008. This registration requirement only applies to paralegals who work under the supervision of an attorney,. It does not apply to Legal Document Preparers. Only professionals who work under the supervision of an attorney can use the term ; “paralegal” or “registered paralegal”. The Florida Bar basically owns the word “paralegal”. If you are a legal document preparer and you use the word “paralegal” in your advertising, the Florida Bar will initiate an action against you for “unauthorized practice of law.”
Requirements for Legal Document Preparers – nonlawyers who prepare legal documents directly for consumers:
From: Florida Bar Rules:
CHAPTER 10. RULES GOVERNING THE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF THE UNLICENSED PRACTICE OF LAW
RULE 10-2.2. FORM COMPLETION BY A NONLAWYER
(a) Supreme Court Approved Forms. It shall not constitute the unlicensed practice of law for a nonlawyer to engage in limited oral communication to assist a self-represented person in the completion of blanks on a Supreme Court Approved Form. In assisting in the completion of the form, oral communication by nonlawyers is restricted to those communications reasonably necessary to elicit factual information to complete the blanks on the form and inform the selfrepresented person how to file the form. The nonlawyer may not give legal advice or give advice on remedies or courses of action. Legal forms approved by the Supreme Court of Florida which may be completed as set forth herein shall only include and are limited to the following forms, and any other legal form whether promulgated or approved by the Supreme Court is not a Supreme Court Approved Form for the purposes of this rule:
(1)forms which have been approved by the Supreme Court of Florida specifically pursuant to the authority of rule 10-2.1(a) [formerly rule 10-1.1(b)] of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar;
(2)the Family Law Forms contained in the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure; and
(3)the Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Forms contained in the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.
(b) Forms Which Have Not Been Approved by the Supreme Court of Florida.
(1) It shall not constitute the unlicensed practice of law for a nonlawyer to engage in a secretarial service, typing forms for self-represented persons by copying information given in writing by the self-represented person into the blanks on the form. The nonlawyer must transcribe the information exactly as provided in writing by the self-represented person without addition, deletion, correction, or editorial comment. The nonlawyer may not engage in oral communication with the self-represented person to discuss the form or assist the self-represented person in completing the form.
(2)It shall constitute the unlicensed practice of law for a nonlawyer to give legal advice, to give advice on remedies or courses of action, or to draft a legal document for a particular selfrepresented person. It also constitutes the unlicensed practice of law for a nonlawyer to offer to provide legal services directly to the public.
(c) As to All Legal Forms.
(1)Except for forms filed by the petitioner in an action for an injunction for protection against domestic or repeat violence, the following language shall appear on any form completed by a nonlawyer and any individuals assisting in the completion of the form shall provide their name, business name, address, and telephone number on the form:
RRTFB – June 1, 2014
This form was completed with the assistance of:
…..(Name of Individual)…..
…..(Name of Business)…..
(2) Before a nonlawyer assists a person in the completion of a form, the nonlawyer shall provide the person with a copy of a disclosure which contains the following provisions:
…..(Name)….. told me that he/she is a nonlawyer and may not give legal advice, cannot tell me what my rights or remedies are, cannot tell me how to testify in court, and cannot represent me in court.
Rule 10-2.1(b) of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar defines a paralegal as a person who works under the supervision of a member of The Florida Bar and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a member of The Florida Bar is responsible. Only persons who meet the definition may call themselves paralegals. …..(Name)….. informed me that he/she is not a paralegal as defined by the rule and cannot call himself/herself a paralegal.
…..(Name)….. told me that he/she may only type the factual information provided by me in writing into the blanks on the form. Except for typing, …..(Name)….. may not tell me what to put in the form and may not complete the form for me. However, if using a form approved by the Supreme Court of Florida, …..(Name)….. may ask me factual questions to fill in the blanks on the form and may also tell me how to file the form.
………. I can read English
………. I cannot read English but this notice was read to me by …..(Name)….. in …..(Language)….. which I understand.
(3) A copy of the disclosure, signed by both the nonlawyer and the person, shall be given to the person to retain and the nonlawyer shall keep a copy in the person’s file. The nonlawyer shall also retain copies for at least 6 years of all forms given to the person being assisted. The disclosure does not act as or constitute a waiver, disclaimer, or limitation of liability.
Added April 12, 2012, effective July 1, 2012 (SC10-1967).
RRTFB – June 1, 2014