Code Section Group

Business and Professions Code - BPC

DIVISION 3. PROFESSIONS AND VOCATIONS GENERALLY [5000 - 9998.11]

  ( Heading of Division 3 added by Stats. 1939, Ch. 30. )

CHAPTER 5.5. Legal Document Assistants and Unlawful Detainer Assistants [6400 - 6415]

  ( Chapter 5.5 repealed and added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. )

ARTICLE 3. Conduct of Business and Prohibited Acts [6408 - 6415]
  ( Article 3 added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. )

6408.
  

The registrant’s name, business address, telephone number, registration number, and county of registration shall appear in any solicitation or advertisement, and on any printed papers or documents prepared or used by the registrant, including, but not limited to, contracts, letterhead, business cards, correspondence, documents, forms, claims, petitions, checks, receipts, and pleadings. The registrant’s name, business address, telephone number, registration number, expiration date of the registration, and county of registration shall appear on the written contract required to be provided to a client pursuant to Section 6410, as well as on any Internet Web site maintained by the registrant, and in any solicitation, advertisement, document, or correspondence prepared or used by the registrant in electronic form.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 295, Sec. 10. (AB 285) Effective January 1, 2016. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6408.5.
  

(a) All advertisements or solicitations published, distributed, or broadcast offering legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant services shall include the following statement: “I am not an attorney. I can only provide self help services at your specific direction.” This subdivision does not apply to classified or “yellow pages” listings in a telephone or business directory of three lines or less that state only the name, address, and telephone number of the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant.

(b) If the advertisement or solicitation is in a language other than English, the statement required by subdivision (a) shall be in the same language as the advertisement or solicitation.

(Added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6409.
  

No legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall retain in his or her possession original documents of a client. A legal document assistant or an unlawful detainer assistant shall immediately return all of a client’s original documents to the client in any one or more of the following circumstances:

(a) If the client so requests at any time.

(b) If the written contract required by Section 6410 is not executed or is rescinded, canceled, or voided for any reason.

(c) If the services described pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 6410 have been completed.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6409.1.
  

Notwithstanding any other law, the venue for an action arising out of a dispute between a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant and his or her client shall be the county in which the client has his or her primary residence.

(Added by Stats. 2015, Ch. 295, Sec. 11. (AB 285) Effective January 1, 2016. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6410.
  

(a) Every legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant who enters into a contract or agreement with a client to provide services shall, prior to providing any services, provide the client with a written contract, the contents of which shall be prescribed by regulations adopted by the Department of Consumer Affairs.

(b) The written contract shall include all of the following provisions:

(1) The services to be performed.

(2) The costs of the services to be performed.

(3) The contact information of the county clerk’s office for the county in which the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant is registered, including the address, phone number, and, if available, Internet Web site.

(4) There shall be printed on the face of the contract in 12-point boldface type a statement that the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant is not an attorney and may not perform the legal services that an attorney performs.

(5) The contract shall contain a statement in 12-point boldface type that the county clerk has not evaluated or approved the registrant’s knowledge or experience, or the quality of the registrant’s services.

(6) The contract shall contain a statement in 12-point boldface type that the consumer may obtain information regarding free or low-cost representation through a local bar association or legal aid foundation and that the consumer may contact local law enforcement, a district attorney, or a legal aid foundation if the consumer believes that he or she has been a victim of fraud, the unauthorized practice of law, or any other injury.

(7) The contract shall contain a statement in 12-point boldface type that a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant is not permitted to engage in the practice of law, including providing any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms, or strategies.

(c) The contract shall be written both in English and in any other language comprehended by the client and principally used in any oral sales presentation or negotiation leading to execution of the contract. The legal document assistant or the unlawful detainer assistant is responsible for translating the contract into the language principally used in any oral sales presentation or negotiation leading to the execution of the contract.

(d) A written contract entered into on or after January 1, 2016, shall contain a statement that, pursuant to Section 6409.1, the venue for an action arising out of a dispute between a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant and his or her client shall be the county in which the client has his or her primary residence.

(e) Failure of a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant to comply with subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (d) shall make the contract or agreement for services voidable at the option of the client. Upon the voiding of the contract, the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall immediately return in full any fees paid by the client.

(f) In addition to any other right to rescind, the client shall have the right to rescind the contract within 24 hours of the signing of the contract. The client may cancel the contract by giving the legal document assistant or the unlawful detainer assistant any written statement to the effect that the contract is canceled. If the client gives notice of cancellation by mail addressed to the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant, with first-class postage prepaid, cancellation is effective upon the date indicated on the postmark. Upon the voiding or rescinding of the contract or agreement for services, the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall immediately return to the client any fees paid by the client, except fees for services that were actually, necessarily, and reasonably performed on the client’s behalf by the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant with the client’s knowing and express written consent. The requirements of this subdivision shall be conspicuously set forth in the written contract.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 295, Sec. 12. (AB 285) Effective January 1, 2016. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6410.5.
  

(a) It is unlawful for any legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant, in the first contact with a prospective client of legal document or unlawful detainer assistant services, to enter into a contract or agreement for services or accept any compensation unless the legal document assistant or the unlawful detainer assistant states orally, clearly, affirmatively, and expressly all of the following, before making any other statement, except statements required by law in telephonic or home solicitations, and a greeting, or asking the prospective client any questions:

(1) The identity of the person making the solicitation.

(2) The trade name of the person represented by the person making the solicitation, if any.

(3) The kind of services being offered for sale.

(4) The statement: “I am not an attorney” and, if the person offering legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant services is a partnership or a corporation, or uses a fictitious business name, “[name] is not a law firm. I/we cannot represent you in court, advise you about your legal rights or the law, or select legal forms for you.”

(5) The county in which the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant is registered and his or her registration number.

(6) The expiration date of the legal document assistant’s or unlawful detainer assistant’s current registration period.

(b) After the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant makes the oral statements required pursuant to subdivision (a), and before the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant enters into a contract or agreement for services or accepts any compensation, the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall provide the prospective client with a “Notice to Consumer” set forth below. After allowing the prospective client time to read the notice, the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall ask the prospective client to sign and date the notice. If the first contact is not in person, the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall provide the notice to the prospective client at the first in-person meeting or mail the notice to the prospective client before entering into a contract or agreement for services or accepting any compensation. The notice shall be set forth in black, bold, 12-point type on a separate, white, 81/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper that contains no other print or graphics, and shall be in the form set forth below. The notice shall contain only the appropriate name or other designation from those indicated in brackets below. At the time a prospective client signs the notice and before that prospective client is offered any contract or agreement for signature, the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall give the prospective client a clearly legible copy of the signed notice. A legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall not ask or require a prospective client or a client to sign any other form of acknowledgment regarding this notice.

NOTICE TO CONSUMER

DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING BEFORE YOU READ THIS PAGE

In the first conversation when you contacted [the unlawful detainer assistant or the legal document assistant], did [he or she] explain . . . . . . . . .

[Name of unlawful detainer assistant or legal document assistant] is not an attorney.

[Name of corporation or partnership, if any, that is offering legal document assistant services or unlawful detainer assistant services] is not a law firm.

[He/she/name of the business] cannot represent you in court.

[He/she/name of the business] cannot advise you about your legal rights or the law.

[He/she/name of the business] cannot select legal forms for you.

[He/she/name of the business] is registered in [county name] and the registration number is [registration number].

[He/she/name of the business]’s registration is valid until [date of expiration of registration], after which it must be renewed.

To confirm that [he/she/name of business] is registered, you may contact the [county name] clerk’s office at [office address], [or] [office phone number], [or] [if available, office Internet Web site].

Choose one:

Yes, [he/she] explained.

No, [he/she] did not explain.

Date:

Signature:

(c) The legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall be responsible for translating, if necessary, the “Notice to Consumer” required pursuant to subdivision (b) into the language principally used in any oral sales presentation or negotiation.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 86, Sec. 11. (SB 1171) Effective January 1, 2017. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6411.
  

It is unlawful for any person engaged in the business or acting in the capacity of a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant to do any of the following:

(a) Make false or misleading statements to the consumer concerning the subject matter, legal issues, or self-help service being provided by the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant.

(b) Make any guarantee or promise to a client or prospective client, unless the guarantee or promise is in writing and the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant has a reasonable factual basis for making the guarantee or promise.

(c) Make any statement that the legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant can or will obtain favors or has special influence with a court, or a state or federal agency.

(d) Provide assistance or advice which constitutes the unlawful practice of law pursuant to Section 6125, 6126, or 6127.

(e) Engage in the unauthorized practice of law, including, but not limited to, giving any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms, or strategies. A legal document assistant shall complete documents only in the manner prescribed by subdivision (d) of Section 6400.

(f) Use in the person’s business name or advertising the words “legal aid,” “legal services,” or any similar term that has the capacity, tendency, or likelihood to mislead members of the public about that person’s status as a nonprofit corporation or governmentally supported organization offering legal services without charge to indigent people, or employing members of the State Bar to provide those services.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6412.
  

(a) Any owner or manager of residential or commercial rental property, tenant, or other person who is awarded damages in any action or proceeding for injuries caused by the acts of a registrant while in the performance of his or her duties as a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant may recover damages from the bond or cash deposit required by Section 6405.

(b) If there has been a recovery against a bond or cash deposit under subdivision (a) and the registration has not been revoked pursuant to Section 6413, the registrant shall file a new bond or deposit an additional amount of cash within 30 days to reinstate the bond or cash deposit to the amount required by Section 6405. If the registrant does not file a bond, or deposit this amount within 30 days, his or her certificate of registration shall be revoked.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6412.1.
  

(a) Any person injured by the unlawful act of a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant shall retain all rights and remedies cognizable under law. The penalties, relief, and remedies provided in this chapter are not exclusive, and do not affect any other penalties, relief, and remedies provided by law.

(b) Any person injured by a violation of this chapter by a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant may file a complaint and seek redress in any superior court for injunctive relief, restitution, and damages. Attorney’s fees shall be awarded to the prevailing plaintiff. A claim under this chapter may be maintained in small claims court, if the claim and relief sought are within the small claims court’s jurisdiction.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6412.5.
  

A legal document assistant or an unlawful detainer assistant may neither seek nor obtain a client’s waiver of any of the provisions of this chapter. Any waiver of the provisions of this chapter is contrary to public policy, and is void and unenforceable.

(Added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6413.
  

The county clerk shall revoke the registration of a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant upon receipt of an official document or record stating that the registrant has been found guilty of the unauthorized practice of law pursuant to Section 6125, 6126, or 6127, has been found guilty of a misdemeanor violation of this chapter, has been found liable under Section 6126.5, or that a civil judgment has been entered against the registrant in an action arising out of the registrant’s negligent, reckless, or willful failure to properly perform his or her obligation as a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant. The county clerk shall be given notice of the disposition in any court action by the city attorney, district attorney, or plaintiff, as applicable. A registrant whose registration is revoked pursuant to this section may reapply for registration three years after the revocation.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6414.
  

A registrant whose certificate is revoked shall be entitled to challenge the decision in a court of competent jurisdiction.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

6415.
  

A failure, by a person who engages in acts of a legal document assistant or unlawful detainer assistant, to comply with any of the requirements of Section 6401.6, 6402, 6408, or 6410, subdivision (a), (b), or (c) of Section 6411, or Section 6412.5 is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more than two thousand dollars ($2,000), as to each client with respect to whom a violation occurs, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. Payment of restitution to a client shall take precedence over payment of a fine.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 1018, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003. Repealed as of January 1, 2021, pursuant to Section 6401.7.)

BPCBusiness and Professions Code - BPC3