BC Considers Paralegal Licensing

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Is Ontario paralegal licensing a warning or a beacon for other provinces?

In British Columbia, the Law Society is considering whether it should act as regulator for the province’s non-lawyer providers of legal services.

A task force is seeking opinions from other jurisdictions, including Ontario.

In B.C., paralegals are limited in the types of duties they may perform; they may not accept clients or advocate on their own. A pilot project gives “designated paralegals” a limited right to appear in court. The province wants to determine whether lawyer-supervised paralegals are capable of competently handling procedural court applications.

One of the biggest issues for the B.C. paralegals, which may inhibit self-regulation, is that until very recently they were not professional advocates.

A July interim report from the B.C. the task force outlines some of the potential advantages and disadvantages of a single-regulator model for paralegals.
Advantages include: aligned codes of conduct; ability to collect data on how both licence categories serve the public; economies of scale; and negotiating strength and unity. Disadvantages include: limited innovation and stifling of reform; a “second-class licensee” sentiment in which licensees have less ability to lobby government for scope of practice reform; greater regulator risk; and potential conflicts of interest.

Comments can be submitted online by Oct. 14.

Related Content:

BC Says Yes to Paralegal Licensng

Paralegals’ streamlined ICCRC process – information from LSUC

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One comment

  1. Very interesting article and it will be even more interesting to see whether they adopt Ontario’s model. Overall, the regulatory framework is slowly improving even if the operative word would seem to be “slow”. But I were a B.C paralegal, I am not sure how I’d vote? I might find myself rather wary about ‘second-class licensee sentiment’ – that would be setting off red flags. And no less of ‘potential conflicts of interest’ – Given the current governance structure, given the ability of lawyers to vote down the progress of paralegals – that conflict is very real. Ontario has come a long way – but a long way to go we still have.

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