Frequently Asked Questions

AZCLDP

WHAT IS A “CERTIFIED LEGAL DOCUMENT PREPARER (CDLP)?”

Answer: The Arizona Supreme Court certifies non-attorney legal document preparers in

Arizona who provide document preparation assistance and services to individuals and entities not represented by an attorney.

WHAT CAN A CDLP DO?

Answer: Legal document preparers may:

  • Provide general legal information as to the procedural requirements of a party in a particular area of law;
  • Use tools to perform their own basic legal research at a Law Library or on the internet;
  • Prepare documents without the supervision of an attorney (whether or not the document is to be filed with the court) for the general public or a business entity;
  • Seek assistance and/or guidance from an attorney.

WHAT CAN A CDLP NOT DO?

Answer: They cannot engage in the unauthorized practice of law, such as:

  • Give legal or strategic advice (tell a customer what actions they should or should not take in his or her case);
  • Express legal opinions in the documents prepared;
  • Represent a customer in court or at any other time;
  • Sign documents on behalf of a customer;
  • If the CDLP has prepared documents for a customer, the CDLP cannot be present in the courtroom at the time of that customer’s hearing or trial;
  • Communicate on a customer’s behalf to the opposing side or other agencies; or collect fees for legal document preparation referrals.

WHAT IS A LEGAL DOCUMENT?

Answer: Any document that can be used in court.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LEGAL DOCUMENT PREPARER AND A PARALEGAL?

Answer: A paralegal is a person qualified by education and training who performs substantive legal work, which requires sufficient knowledge and expertise of legal concepts and procedures, who is supervised by an active member of the State Bar of Arizona and for whom an active member of the state bar is responsible. Therefore, a paralegal must be under the supervision of a licensed attorney. A certified legal document preparer does not require supervision by a licensed attorney.

WHAT IF I JUST WANT TO KNOW THE STEPS IN A DIVORCE PROCESS?

Answer: A CDLP may provide general legal information as to the procedural requirements of a party in a particular area of law.

WHAT REQUIREMENTS DOES THE AZ SUPREME COURT PLACE ON A CLDP?

Answer: A CDLP must possess the following qualifications:

  • Be a citizen or legal resident of the United States;
  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be of good moral character;
  • Comply with the laws, court rules, and orders adopted by the Supreme Court governing legal document preparers in this state;
  • Successfully pass the CDLP Exam at the Arizona Supreme Court that consists of a test on legal terminology, client communication, data gathering, document preparation, ethical issues, and professional and administrative responsibilities pertaining to legal document preparation, as identified through a job analysis conducted by the board;
  • Possess one of the following combinations of education and experience: a. A high school diploma or GED and a minimum of 2 years of law-related experience in one or a combination of the following situations:
  • Under the supervision of a licensed attorney
  • Providing services in preparation of legal documents prior to 7/1/2003;
  • Under the supervision of a CDLP after 7/1/2003; or
  • As a court employee.

b. A four-year Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum of one year of law-related experience in one or a combination of the following situations:

  • Under the supervision of a licensed attorney
  • Providing services in preparation of legal documents prior to 7/1/2003;
  • Under the supervision of a CDLP after 7/1/2003; or
  • As a court employee.

c. A certificate of completion from a paralegal or legal assistant program approved by the American Bar Association;

d. A certificate of completion from a paralegal or legal assistant program that is institutionally accredited by not approved by the American Bar Association, and that requires successful completion of a minimum of 24 semester units, or the equivalent, in legal specialized courses;

e. A certificate of completion from an accredited educational program designed specifically to qualify a person for certification as a legal document preparer;

f. A degree from a law school accredited by the American bar Association; or

g. A degree from a law school that that is institutionally accredited by not approved by the American Bar Association.

  • Provide a fingerprint card;
  • Attend a minimum of 10 hours of approved continuing education each year, for a total of no less than 20 hours of continuing education to completed on or before April 30th of every odd-numbered year, a total of which 4 must be in ethics; and
  • Renew the CDLP’s certification, or license, every 2 years.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE A CDLP?

Answer: The rates of a CDLP vary from company to company but are usually considerably lower than what would be paid to a law firm as a retainer. Also, a CDLP’s fees are typically a “flat fee” and do not vary.

WHAT IF I HAVE A QUESTION THAT THE CDLP DOES NOT KNOW THE ANSWER TO?

Answer: As a CDLP cannot give legal advice, there are times when a customer will have to seek answers to some of his or her questions from an attorney. When a CDLP is asked a question that falls under the category of legal advice, he or she will notify customers that they need to schedule a legal consultation with an attorney.

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Certified Document Services (CDS) prepares legal documents for non-lawyers in their own legal actions. CDS offers no legal advice, recommendations, mediation or counseling under any circumstance. CDS are not Lawyers, are not employed by a Lawyer, cannot give any legal advice and our employees are not acting as your Attorney. CDS can give you general factual information pertaining to legal rights, procedures or options available to you in a legal matter when you are not represented by an attorney. CDS cannot give you specific advice, opinions or recommendations about your legal rights, remedies, defenses, or strategies.