In court, you’ll probably come across two familiar designations: a paralegal and a certified legal document preparer.

In some cases, however, a paralegal could be used to refer to a certified legal document preparer, although they have different responsibilities and job descriptions. So, what exactly are the differences between the two?

A Paralegal

According to the State Bar of Arizona, a paralegal is “a person qualified by education and training who performs substantial legal work requiring sufficient knowledge of and expertise in legal concepts and procedures, who is supervised by an active member of the State Bar of Arizona.” This means that a paralegal or legal assistant should function under the supervision of an attorney, but many paralegals actually don’t understand this rule fully.

A Certified Legal Document Preparer

Unlike a paralegal who needs the supervision of an attorney, a certified legal document preparer can offer services without the supervision of an attorney as long as they are certified by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Without this certification, any professional practicing as a legal document preparer will be deemed illegal. All legal document preparers in the state are monitored by the Arizona Supreme Court to make sure that the public is protected from any scams.

In general, certified legal document preparers have the following responsibilities:

  • They can offer assistance in matters involving family, business, estate planning, and bankruptcy.
  • They are allowed to prepare legal documents for the public, as long as the Arizona Supreme Court certifies them. They are also not allowed to offer legal advice or represent a client in court because that’s the job of an attorney.
  • They can only offer assistance, but you are still responsible for your own documents. Certified legal document preparers work for professionals like how a paralegal would work for an attorney.
  • They are not bound by the attorney-client privilege. Certified legal document preparers will be obliged to disclose the information if summoned by the court.

Additional Information

Here are more things that you should know between a paralegal and certified legal document preparer:

  • Both paralegals and legal document preparers are prohibited from giving any legal advice. They can just assist with legal research as needed and work with a client in preparing documents, but they cannot offer specific legal advice.
  • While certified legal document preparers need to be registered under the State Bar of Arizona, paralegals don’t have to be registered because they don’t work directly with clients without the direction of an attorney.
  • Certified legal document preparers need at least two years of training before they can work with clients and they also need to be bonded by the state where they wish to practice.

Knowing the difference between a paralegal and a certified legal document preparer is very important in case you need to go to court for a case.

This will help you distinguish the responsibilities of these two professionals and avoid getting unsolicited legal advice from professionals who are not authorized to do so.

Arizona Diamond Documents is a Tucson Legal Documents Preparation company certified by the Supreme Court of Arizona. We are happy to offer our services here and to the surrounding areas: Maricopa County, Pima County, Pinal County, Mojave County, Gila County, Coconino County, Yuma County, Yavapai County, Cochise County, La Paz County, Greenlee County, Graham County, Navajo County, Santa Cruz County, Apache County

Call 520-528-0376