More than 200 newly licensed paralegals from around the province took centre stage Wednesday night, officially welcomed to the Law Society of Upper Canada. They took advantage of the chance to meet their fellow licensees and special guests, including Attorney General John Gerretsen, during the Nov. 20 event at Osgoode Hall.
Gerretsen told the new licensees they have joined a society-changing profession that, in its first six years, has clinched a crucial role in access to justice. That is one reason he introduced legislation in October, to increase the number of paralegal benchers and update the Solicitors’ Act.
Law Society Treasurer Tom Conway noted that paralegals commonly represent people in the most-often accessed areas of law: provincial offences, landlord and tenant, small claims, and workplace legal matters. “Paralegals have quickly become a key asset to access to justice in Ontario,” Conway said. “Access to justice starts with a client who has an unmet legal need.”
Benchers and staff came out to meet the paralegals. Deputy Judge Laura Ntoukas, from the Toronto Small Claims Court, was among the judiciary on-hand for the reception. Lawyer representatives included the Ontario Bar Association, County & District Law Presidents Association, and the Toronto Lawyers’ Association. Art Vertlieb, president of the Law Society of British Columbia, attended; he spoke at Convocation Nov. 21, about that province’s interest in licensing paralegals within its jurisdiction.
The Paralegal Society of Ontario (PSO), Licensed Paralegals’ Association (LPA) and the Women’s Paralegal Association of Ontario (WPAO) welcomed the new licensees.
An initiative of the Paralegal Standing Committee (PSC), Welcome Receptions take place twice a year. The next reception is set for spring 2014.