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.
BC Says Yes to Paralegal Licensng
Paralegals’ streamlined ICCRC process – information from LSUC