Not many events qualify as historic, but next spring’s Paralegal Standing Committee election deserves that superlative.
With the passage of Bill 111, The Modernizing Regulation of the Legal Profession Act, all five paralegals elected March 31 to the Paralegal Standing Committee will become benchers at Convocation — sometimes called the “board of governors” of the Law Society. The five paralegal benchers will be able to vote, to make amendments to motions, and to take part in debates more fully than before.
The last time the number of benchers was increased was 1970 — before many of today’s paralegals were born.
The Standing Committee also includes five lawyer bencher members and three lay bencher members. It develops and recommends policies related to the governance and regulation of licensed paralegals. It acts in the best interests of the public, not licensees.
Hold Onto Your Hats
Based on discussions and posts at social media, and questions asked during the live webcast for potential candidates offered last month by the Law Society, this election will offer a large field of candidates. They bring a range of experiences and their platforms will be just as varied.
Candidate photos, bios and election statements will be posted at the Law Society’s election page. But getting to know the candidates and issues is beyond the mandate of LSUC. It’s up to paralegals ourselves to become familiar with the issues and the candidates — a challenge for licensees with time and geographic limitations.
That’s where SCOPE comes in. Paralegal SCOPE is in a unique position to bring the candidates’ names, positions and platforms to the paralegal voting community, to promote a fair, just and sensible result. It will take time, dedication and skill to navigate what are likely to be perilous waters.
Leveling the Playing Field, Covering Costs
I’m planning to make paid space available for candidates’ statements and platforms — details will soon be sent to candidates, and posted at SCOPE. Space and content will conform to the Law Society’s standards, so that each candidate who uses this service has an equal opportunity to get their basic message across.
Candidates will be able to use a SCOPE editing service, so their information looks as professional as possible. Candidates who choose to advertise and use the editing service will be able to update their information, and adjust their statements, during the election period. Full-service candidates will be able to include links to related information, and to update those links during the election period.
High Stakes Call for High Standards
SCOPE coverage will include posing questions to advertising candidates, giving each an equal opportunity to respond in the SCOPE area set aside for that purpose, with word-count limits.
As a daily newspaper reporter, I covered many elections, including contentious federal campaigns in a swing riding. I intend to apply the same level of fairness, integrity, skepticism and diffidence to this election.
Highlights of the SCOPE election coverage plan include:
- SCOPE coverage will rigorously conform to the Law Society’s Rules regarding civility and fairness.
- You will notice the Law Society’s Election logo associated with SCOPE’s election coverage. Permission to use the logo comes with caveats about respectful, Rules-conforming coverage. This is a promise I intend to comply with, vigilantly.
- Election material posted, whether it has been edited by SCOPE or not, must comply with election Rules and the Rules of Professional Conduct. So — no defamatory comments, no misleading or inaccurate statements, no comments that tend to bring the legal system into disrepute. You know: common sense and civility.
- SCOPE will not endorse or favour any candidate.
- I hope to cover all “town hall meetings” and all-candidate events.
- Comments at SCOPE and at social media groups in response to SCOPE articles, will be carefully vetted. Intemperate commenters will be blocked from posting at SCOPE and reported to the administrators of Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
- After Dec. 20, any paralegal who has announced an intention to run in the election must include that fact with any article that is posted at SCOPE, and with any Comments made at SCOPE. This information will be added by SCOPE, if not noted by the candidate.
Election 2014 is a watershed moment for paralegals. I look forward to learning more about all the candidates and the issues, so that I can give the paralegal community the election coverage it deserves.
- Nomination forms must be received by the Law Society by 5 pm Jan. 17, 2014
- Nominees need signatures of at least five paralegals whose licences are not suspended at the time they sign the nomination form
- Election statements must contain no more than 350 words, including headings
- Election material and statements must not be libellous, must be in good taste, and comply with the Paralegal Rules of Conduct
- By-Law 3 governs the election process
History-making PSC Election period begins
Election Advertising Fees
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