Friday, March 19, 2010

Sikes, the Toyota Prius, and paralegal services

One side story in the Sikes / Prius event concerns a former job of Sikes. Jalopnik reported about William Sweet, a former business associate of Sikes:

William Sweet says he went into business with Sikes, together opening up a paralegal services company called "AAA California Aid" in 1997. Sweet operated the main office and Sikes ran one in Los Banos, California. Sweet alleges numerous incidents of fraud and theft involving Sikes led him to dissolve their partnership, including an incident in which Sikes sent an employee to break into the main office to steal payment records.

A paralegal services company? The Texas Paralegal Journal concludes a post with the sentence: The majority of states prohibit offering paralegal services directly to the public. One finds the following on the internet concerning the situation in California:

On September 13, 2000, Governor Gray Davis signed AB1761; a bill which defines the term paralegal/legal assistant as an individual who works under the supervision of an attorney who must meet certain educational criteria and must complete continuing education. The intent of this bill is to differentiate those who work under the supervision of an attorney and those who provide services directly to the public. For those who work under the supervision of an attorney, the only intended change to the profession is a higher standard of education and mandatory continuing education to utilize the title of a paralegal. The duties of those who work under the supervision of an attorney have not changed and the bill codifies existing case law.


AB 1761 does not require paralegals to be registered. Only Legal Document Assistants (LDAs) are required to register. LDAs are those who work directly for the public and type legal documents and are governed by Business & Professions Code Chapter 5.5.

Note also the text:

Legal Document Assistants were once commonly known as Independent Paralegals. However, as of January 1st, 2000, only those Paralegals working directly for attorneys may now be referred to as Paralegals. Those formerly known as Independent Paralegals are now officially known as Legal Document Assistants (LDA's). ((B&PC Section 6400), California SB 1418)

One might infer that post-2000, AAA California Aid should not be referenced as a "paralegal services company."

Entirely separately, one ponders whether some analog of a "legal document assistant" might ever evolve in the patent application field?

Previous discussion of Sikes and his Toyota Prius:

California Highway Patrol to weigh in on Sikes' Prius story


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