Friday, August 28, 2009

AB 590 We Need Your Help - Letter Campaign - Sample Letter

Time is Short, the Last Day for Amendments is September 4th!

Use the sample below and write a letter to your representatives today to ensure they support the inclusion of exlusionary language of AB 590 as it relates to LDAs. If you are unsure who your representative is, visit, or check the front of your local phone book! Due to the limited amount of time (bill passed appropriations 8/27) email and fax are the best way to communication quickly.

Senators: (does not allow email attachments so paste the body of your letter into your email.

Email addresses of Judicary Committee members:

And finally - the Governor:

Submitting an email to the Governor is a two-step process. Go to Select the purpose of your email, fill in preliminary contact information, and select a subject prior to submitting a message in step two. If your correspondence requires assistance with a specific agency or department, please include the appropriate case or claim numbers so that we may assist you in a more timely fashion. Please note that they are unable to accept e-mail attachments because of the risk of Internet viruses; please send your attachments via traditional mail.

Governor's Office:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160 (new number)

District Offices:

Fresno Office
2550 Mariposa Mall #3013
Fresno, CA 93721
Phone: (559) 477-1804
Fax: (559) 445-5328

Los Angeles Office
300 South Spring Street
Suite 16701
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: (213) 897-0322
Fax: (213) 897-0319

Riverside Office
3737 Main Street #201
Riverside, CA 92501
Phone: (951) 680-6860
Fax: (951) 680-6863

San Diego Office
1350 Front Street Suite 6054
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 525-4641
Fax: (619) 525-4640

San Francisco Office
455 Golden Gate Avenue Suite 14000
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 703-2218
Fax: (415) 703-2803

Washington D.C. Office
134 Hall of the States
444 North Capitol Street NW
Washington D.C. 20001
Phone: (202) 624-5270
Fax: (202)624-5280

Sample letter

For your convenience, you can download a copy of the sample letter in MS Word or PDF format by clicking here.

The Honorable ________
California State Assembly
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001

Dear _____:

I am writing to voice my strong opposition to AB 590, and any future legislation which would serve to prevent consumers from choosing among a variety of legal service providers, including California legal document assistants who provide self-help services to self-representing litigants pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 6400, et seq.

I am concerned about specific language contained in AB 590 as follows:

6159.52 (b) would provide that is “unlawful for any person to sell or charge a fee for any legal form or other documents created by a legal aid organization or by a court or other public agency of the state regarding or for use in a court action or proceeding if the form or other documents is available to the public without charge from the legal aid organization, court or other public agency.”

6159.52 (c) would provide that it is “unlawful for any person for a fee to assist or offer to assist in the provision of self-help services that are provided without charge by a court or legal aid organization.”

While this proposed statute would be included in the “attorney” chapter of the code, the language (“any person”) would prohibit legal document assistants from the service of preparing legal documents on behalf of California’s consumers, and on its face appears to limit the range of choices from which consumers may choose in resolving their legal matters.

As the law currently stands, consumers generally have five options, which range from extremely costly to free-of-charge: 1) attorney representation; 2) self-help services provided by an attorney offering limited scope services; 3) self-help services provided by a registered legal document assistant; 4) no-cost legal aid through a non-profit organization, court clinic, or other agency; or 5) completely on their own with no assistance.

The language of bill appears to limit the choices of consumers, by eliminating the mid-range options – limited scope services from an attorney, or self-help services from a legal document assistant. Interpreted this way, the ultimate result is that consumers must choose between full attorney representation – which many cannot afford – and free services from a legal aid organization – which could be back-logged for weeks or even months.

As a registered legal document assistant, I see clients every day who can afford to pay for some assistance, and do not qualify for free legal aid services. I also see clients who can afford full attorney representation, but choose not to because they want to handle their own legal matters and utilizing the self-help services of a legal document assistant meets their needs. To force these individuals to either hire a high-priced attorney for full representation, to wait weeks for free assistance from a pro bono legal aid organization, or to go it alone with no assistance whatsoever, is patently un-American. Furthermore, those who choose to go it alone and those who get limited self-help assistance from Legal Aid will undoubtedly bog down the judicial system with basic questions, rejected documents, and general unfamiliarity with court rules and procedures.

I request that the language in AB 590 be modified to make clear exceptions which permit attorneys and registered legal document assistants to provide self-help services to those who can and choose to pay for “mid-range” self-help legal services. The proposed language, at present, appears to conflict with the provisions of California Business and Professions Code section 6400(c), which authorizes the provision of self-help legal services, including document preparation and the provision of legal information and published legal documents for consumers who wish to handle their own legal matters without attorney representation.

I respectfully request that you vote NO on AB 590 until the language states a clear exception for California’s self-help legal service providers, and preserves the ability for consumers to make their own choices.

Very truly yours,

(Include your name, address and phone number)

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