Because of a new law in Nevada, paralegals and legal document typists now have to act only as scriveners and cannot give any sort of advice or guidance to their clients. They are also more closely regulated by both the Secretary Of State and the Nevada State Bar. Paralegals who are non-attorney supervised can only assist the public through entities called Document Preparation Services. All paralegals are required to be registered with the State of Nevada, exemptions limited to employees of lawyers and certain nonprofit entities.
Under the new law (NRS 240A), a Document Preparation Service (DPS) must register with the Secretary Of State, be issued a unique registration number, and post a $50,000 bond to protect the public against fraud and/or incompetence, all before they can do business in Nevada. The law makes clear a distinction between document preparation services and the practice of law. The Nevada Bar has authority to charge the DPS with the unauthorized practice of law and subject the DPS provider to misdemeanor charges as well as cease and desist orders.
This new law regulates what a DPS can and cannot do. One of the things they are forbidden to do is give legal advice.
What you need to know if you plan to file your own case at court and have the documents typed by a paralegal or typing service instead of being represented by an attorney:
- Paralegals who own and, or, operate, a DPS would be advised to have their clients consult with a lawyer first so that the client is not only properly advised, but also understands clearly which forms to ask the DPS to type.
- Only after that consultation with the attorney can the DPS type up, as a scrivener, whatever legal documents have been advised by the lawyer should be filed for a specific type of case.
- This new law does not permit a paralegal or typing service to advise a client of a mistake they might be making when requesting that any certain document be typed up and filed. Should this situation occur, the only option left to the paralegal or typing service is to tell the client to consult with an attorney before coming back to him or her for the typing of the documents.
- The DPS must have a written contract with each client clearly stating its fees.
- The DPS contract must provide client with an estimate of time it will take to prepare the documents requested by client.
- The contract between the DPS and the client must state that the document preparer is not an attorney.
- The contract must also state that the client has the right to file a complaint with either the Secretary Of State or the Nevada Bar against the DPS for any wrongdoing.
- DPS must give written notice to the client that no attorney will represent client at court.
- DPS must show each client its bond and Secretary of State registration information.
- DPS must provide client with the names of all document preparers working in its offfices.
- The contract and notice must be translated into Spanish or into any other native language of any clients serviced by the DPS.
- The client must be told that they are not protected by the attorney/client privilege insofar as his or her discussions with the document preparer.
- DPS must provide client with its local business license(s).
- Receipts must be given and monthly statements if appropriate–all on the letterhead of the DPS
- The letterhead for the DPS must contain its address, phone, tax identification number and registration number with the Nevada Secretary Of State.
- What many people don’t understand when they hire a paralegal or typing service is that they are representing themselves at court. Even if a client hires a paralegal or typing service that claims that they are “attorney supervised,” only the client’s name(s) appear on the court pleadings; not the name of the attorney who supervises the typing service.
Should a DPS be found to break any of the above rules, the Nevada State Bar would send them a Cease and Desist through Civil Court. If the DPS does not abide by it, the Attorney General will file criminal charges against the DPS, and, or force the service to close.
Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm