Paralegal Reception Welcomes New Licensees

Photo: LSUC

Photo: LSUC

Ontario’s newest paralegals were formally welcomed to the legal community Nov. 19, with a Reception at Osgoode Hall. While poor driving conditions reduced the number of attendees from the expected 220, Convocation Hall was alive with networking and professional discussions.

Last night’s event was the first Welcome Reception for Janet Minor as Treasurer. In her comments to the gathering, she emphasized the role paralegals play in ensuring access to justice for Ontarians. “We need you,” Treasurer Minor said. “Access to justice has become a significant concern in the courts of Ontario, among the public, and among the members of the legal profession throughout the province.”

In the eight years since passage of the Access to Justice Act, roughly 6,600 paralegals have been licensed to provide legal services to Ontarians, within a limited scope of practice that includes Provincial Offences, Small Claims Court, and Landlord & Tenant advocacy work.
Repeating the words of the Paralegal Oath, Minor suggested the new licenses review the oath from time to time, as a reminder of its solemnity, and the place paralegals have carved for themselves in helping Ontarians to solve their legal needs.

“When we consider that Ontarians often come into contact with the justice system because they have a traffic ticket, a landlord/tenant dispute, a workplace or personal injury, or a matter before small claims court, we begin to realize just how much of a positive impact paralegal regulation has had for the residents of Ontario,” Minor said.

Special guests at the Nov. 19 event included: Regional Senior Justice of the Peace Warren Ralph of the Ontario Court of Justice, Senior Justice of the Peace Kathy-Lou Johnson, Senior Advisory & Justice of the Peace Andrew Clark, Alfred Schorr from the County & District Law Presidents’ Association, and Edwin Upenieks, Vice-President of the Ontario Bar Association. Susan McGrath, Vice-Chair of the PSC, attended and spoke to the new licensees about Law Society resources available to them.

Cathy Corsetti, PSC Chair, outlined the role the Paralegal Standing Committee (PSC) plays in governing the profession. PSC initiatives include the Welcome Reception, having paralegals added to the Law Society Referral Service, the annual William Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award, and having paralegals made Commissioners for Taking Affidavits. She encouraged paralegals to provide feedback on the Law Society’s Working Group on the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees consultation report, and to review supportive material available at the LSUC website, and at Paralegal SCOPE Magazine.

Among the resources to help licensees, the Members’ Assistance Program is available to all licensees and their families, Corsetti noted. Both Corsetti and Minor encouraged the new paralegals to connect to the licensee community, through both formal organizations and informal groups of like-minded paralegals, to encourage business and professional growth. Most paralegals are sole practitioners, so support networks are crucial.

Some 6,600 paralegals are licensed under the Law Society to provide legal services within a defined scope of practice in Ontario.

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