Not Everybody Needs a Lawyer

Couple Frustrated at Computer 300x199 Not Everybody Needs a Lawyer

Let’s say you are involved in a lawsuit or a legal matter.  Do you need an attorney or a Legal Document Preparer (LDP)? Will you need the services of a notary public? Do you know what a process server is? When involved in a legal matter, most consumers are not sure where to turn for help. To provide some guidance, let us explore the role an attorney, document preparer, notary public and process server play in a case.

 You Want Legal Advice

Only attorneys or lawyers can provide legal advice. Attorneys have passed the bar exam and can serve as legal representatives.

Many attorneys specialize in certain issues such as personal injury and immigration.  Word of mouth truly is the best form of advertising for attorneys since people either love or hate their attorney.  It is important to remember that once an attorney and client have entered into a retainer agreement, the attorney has a fiduciary duty to represent the client. Fortunately, there are plenty of attorneys in Arizona.  Like doctors, attorneys are professionals regulated by a governing authority, and in Arizona, it is the State Bar of Arizona.

You Want Help Filling Out Paperwork

Based on the information the client provides, the Legal Document Preparer’s job is to prepare the documents needed by the client.  LDPs are not attorneys and are not allowed to provide legal advice in the preparation of legal documents.  An LDP is trained to give the client information, but not legal advice nor strategy.  Since an LDP can’t represent a client in court or provide legal advice, the attorney-client privilege does not apply.

All who prepare legal documents without the supervision of an attorney must be certified by the state, per Arizona’s Judicial Branch. A directory of LPDs  is also available at www.azcourts.gov.

You Need a Notary Public Seal

The role of the notary cannot be ignored in the litigation process as some documents must be acknowledged or sworn before a notary public.  Unlike a declaration, which is an unsworn document, an affidavit is a document signed and sworn before a notary public.  The notary public serves as a ministerial officer.  A notary public has limited duties mandated by the state, which includes the responsibility to verify the identity of a signer and administer oaths.  A notary public must have no financial benefit from any document on which he or she places his or her stamp.

You Need to Serve Someone

Legal documents filed with the court and served are referred to as legal process.  In Arizona, only the sheriff, constable and process server have statutory authority to serve legal process.  Process servers have statewide authority to serve legal process from all courts, while sheriffs and constables are limited.

Process servers go through a screening and testing process, and are certified through the Superior Court of the county in which they reside.  Many are members of the Arizona Process Servers Associations. A process server in Arizona is an Officer of the Court, with a duty of candor (truth) to the court and parties.  Unlike in movies or television, process servers cannot use ruses or disguises to serve legal process – the papers served must be in plain sight at all times and cannot be covered or delivered in an envelope.

 Who do you usually contact when in need of legal help?

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About Myriam Cruz

Myriam Cruz is the Community Relations Specialist for Better Business Bureau Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona (BBB). Cruz joined BBB in 2010, playing a vital role in the development and translation of communication materials. Fostering relationships with local and national Spanish-language media and local organizations is also part of her role.