A Toronto lawyer has dissected the recent decision in Marian Lippa’s application, and offers a measure of hope on one element within Justice Fuerst’s decision.
While the decision relates primarily to whether judicial officers have discretion in deciding which legal professionals may sit past the bar, and the order in which cases are called, Justice Fuerst also found that paralegals are not “officers of the court.”
Omar Ha-Redeye takes a thorough look at this question, in an article published in SLAW, “Canada’s online legal magazine.”
Impressively researched, the article provides a history of the “officer of the court” designation, its application across various jurisdictions and purposes, and plenty of case law related to this term. Ha-Redeye takes readers on a journey through paralegal time, back to the early days of licensing discussions, the creation of the Paralegal Standing Committee, and the 2006 amendments to the Law Society Act.
Ha-Redeye writes that:
Although the Law Society Act may not explicitly identify paralegals under s. 29, this should not be taken as an exhaustive list, especially since these amendments occurred before paralegals were officially licensed. As we’ve seen, there are many other officers of the court within the judicial system.
This section in the Law Society Act could not have envisioned or foreseen the prospective developments of the Paralegal Standing Committee, and the intent of the statute could not reasonably be construed as binding their authority to define and regulate the new legal profession which was being contemplated in Ontario at the time.”
“The implications of not recognizing paralegals of officers of the court is to disregard the ethical obligations they owe to the court. Ensuring that paralegals are officers of the court benefits the public interest and the entire judicial system, because it indicates they have a broader duty and professional responsibility to the law.”
Omar Ha-Redeye practises in Toronto and is currently completing his LLM in Health Law at Osgoode Hall Law School. He teaches in the paralegal program at Centennial College. Omar was named one of the top 12 social media influencers practising law in Canada, in 2011.
He kindly granted permission to SCOPE to reference his article.