Expanded Paralegal Powers Coming to BC

♫ Break down the walls
Yes, we’ll break down the walls…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by Youth of Today.

 

In June, the Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia adopted new rules and took some important steps towards expanding the role of paralegals in the province.

A lawyer will be able to designate two paralegals who will be entitled to perform a number of additional legal services. These services will include the giving of legal advice and appearing in court on certain matters.

Specifically there are discussions on holding a pilot project to allow paralegals to appear on family law matters in BC. The Benchers and the Courts are looking to try these enhanced roles for paralegals in order to provide the public with more affordably-priced legal services.

The details and evaluation methods are still under discussion. It is expected that more information will become available in the coming months. It is not expected that this expanded role for paralegals will come into effect before 2013.

It should be noted that the LSBC took steps towards greatly expanding the legal services that could be provided by articled students back in 2011. This paralegal pilot will continue the work by the LSBC towards breaking down the walls and making legal services in the province more accessible and more affordable to the public.

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Comments

  1. Excellent step to keep legal services affordable, while creating new opportunities for careers in the legal field. The next step should be apprenticeships for paralegals to gradually gain full entry to the legal profession through experience.

  2. Is the BC initiative directed at paralegals employed by lawyers, or is it anticipated that there would be paralegals who practise on their own and offer services directly to the public? That’s what we have in Ontario, with several years of regulation by the Law Society under enabling statute. A five-year review has found it basically working well, though not all paralegals agree (and probably some lawyers still don’t like the competition either…)

  3. David J. Bilinsky

    John:

    We need to wait for the further details on the program. As I understand it at present the paralegals will be working in conjunction with lawyers and not as independent practictioners. However, that may well change!~

  4. David J. Bilinsky

    Greetings:

    This just in from the Law Society of British Columbia:

    BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman has approved in principle the Law Society’s proposal that supervised paralegals be granted limited right of audience in certain matters in family law proceedings. This is a critical step towards enhancing the role of paralegals and providing the public greater access to reasonably priced legal services. Details of the two-year pilot project, set for implementation on January 1, 2013, are now being developed.

  5. Will the scope of the type of matters in which designated paralegals will be permitted to attend court include small claims matters or does it appear to be limited to simply certain supreme court family matters?

  6. It would seem to me that one of the most valid methods of evaluating the effectiveness and success of paralegal involvement in legal matters is by conducting independent internal and external financial and non-fianancial audits (e.g. implement an annual audit plan: intervals 1, 3, 5 yrs). The report prepared for the Attorney General of Ontario, by The Law Society of Upper Canada (June 28, 2012), on the “success of paralegal regulation” should have included the findings of at least one independent internal & external reviewer. Why the lack of attention to oversight by the AG (who like the Law Society, is mandated to act in the public interest)?

    The BarTalk (Can. Bar Association) Oct. 2005, Vol 17, No.5 proposed that in family law Paralegals be limited to “uncontested or consent applications”. Whatever the program will look like in B.C., it must have a thorough and independent evaluation component or be likened to the fox guarding the hen house.

  7. LSBC should regulate paralegals and allow them to set up their independent business.

    If the government allow immigration consultant to set up their own business after doing a few months of course then why not LSBC regulate paralegals and allow them to do the same, so that they can earn better and serve the public.

    Immigration consultants have taken away over 70% of immigration business from lawyer without having any law degree.