LSUC’s Pickle

The Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”) held its annual general meeting last night. The meeting garnered more attention than it otherwise might have due to the mysterious last minute pulling of a motion that was received on March 28, 2013. This motion dealt with a study to enlarge the paralegal scope of practice. You can read the motion here.

There has not yet been an explanation behind the pulling of this motion–a motion that was proposed well in advance of the meeting.

So we are left to speculate.

It has never made any sense to me as to how LSUC, which is run by a majority of lawyers, can regulate both lawyers and paralegals. In a profession that claims to have “core values” which include the avoidance of conflicts, it is hard to comprehend how LSUC can in good conscience, and in accordance with the profession’s core values, regulate a competitor. I realize the folklore around this matter suggests that LSUC was forced, or asked, to regulate paralegals by the government of Ontario. Given the obvious conflict of interest, the proper response should have been “We hold dear to our core values, one of which is the avoidance of conflicts – so we are unable to regulate a competitor.”

Unfortunately Ontario Benchers chose to ignore a core value of the profession and jumped at the opportunity to regulate a competitor – arguably to better preserve the interests of lawyers.

LSUC is supposed to regulate in the public interest. Yet, the majority of Benchers are lawyers, many of which are elected by lawyers and lawyers are seen to be the constituents of Benchers – so LSUC has now become an organization that focuses on the wants and needs of lawyers, rather than what truly serves the public interest. We have already seen LSUC struggle when the interests of the public do not align with those of lawyers – the MDP fiasco comes to mind, as does the constant “studying” of outside investment in law firms.

And because LSUC ignored a core value of the profession in connection with paralegals, it now finds itself in a pickle.

Enlarging the scope of paralegal practice would clearly help address the access to justice problem in this province – this is in the public interest.

Yet, enlarging the scope of paralegal practice will take away business that is currently the sole purview of lawyers – this is not in lawyers’ interests.

It’s therefore not hard to connect the dots on why the paralegal motion was pulled from the agenda – clearly a vocal section of the profession who do not want the paralegal scope of practice to be expanded, brought pressure to bear on LSUC to have the Motion removed from the agenda.

Does this reflect poorly on the profession and upon LSUC?

Only the people of Ontario can answer this question.

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Comments

  1. In what can only be described as a truly impressive coincidence, see: SCC dismisses Kopyto appeal on paralegal regulation

  2. Jordan Furlong

    I’m looking forward, as I think we all are, to learning more about why this motion was withdrawn. The longer it takes to clarify the circumstances, the more adverse conclusions will be drawn. Certainly, Mitch’s theory is neither an unreasonable nor an unlikely explanation.

    I’m really hoping the LSUC will seize its present opportunity to lead regulatory bodies throughout North America in supporting the delivery of appropriate legal services by law-related professionals such as paralegals. No other regulator in Canada or the US has come close to what Ontario has already done with the admission of paralegals to the law society. This is an opportunity to be a true trailblazer.

    Washington State has already authorized “legal technicians” to assist with the most basic legal and court-related tasks, and California is looking hard at “limited-licence professionals” who would be quite similar. But when I give presentations in the US and tell American audiences that paralegals have been regulated by the Ontario law society for several years and that there are now 5,000 of them, jaws drop open. I also tell them that last time I checked, the world hasn’t ended here and the sky hasn’t fallen as a result.

    But progress has been way too slow, and the chance to demonstrate leadership is not being taken up well enough. If you’re in any doubt about that, go to the LSUC’s website and search the CPD catalogue for “paralegal” offerings. That category yields 31 results (out of a total LSUC CPD menu of 76 offerings). Of those 31 programs, here is the complete list of those specifically geared towards paralegals:

    A Primer for Paralegals as Commissioners for Taking Affidavits
    Tips from the Bench for Paralegals
    Opening Your Paralegal Practice (2x)
    Paralegal Practice Essentials: Criminal Law
    Effective Practice Management for Paralegals (London)

    That’s 5 courses out of 76. It’s quite possible that a fleet of paralegal-specific courses have been offered in 2013 prior to May 9. But based on the current slate of offerings, this does not look much like a CPD regime that takes the training of paralegals seriously.

    So here’s the law society’s bind: lawyers say paralegals should not be allowed to undertake various law-related tasks because they don’t possess the requisite skills and training. Fine; but the law society, as paralegals’ regulator, is statutorily bound to help them develop those skills and training. 5 courses out of 76 does not look like a mandate fulfilled.

    This is a critical moment in the evolution of both the legal services market and legal regulation, and the LSUC is being watched very closely to see what it does. This would be an excellent time for a clear demonstration of regulatory activity in the greater public interest.

  3. Edward Prutschi

    While I have no knowledge of the reason for the last-minute withdrawal of the Motion before the AGM, I do chime in to note that the underlying question raised by the motion is not so easily answered. As a criminal lawyer, I can only speak intelligently to that area of practice as it would be affected by the proposed motion. Is authorizing paralegals to represent criminal defendants in super-summary matters necessarily in the “public interest”?

    These types of cases arise out of charges in which defendants face substantial periods of imprisonment. The defence of these cases often involves meticulous factual analysis along with complex litigation on pre and mid-trial motions that include Charter applications and other Constitutional remedies. While it is nice to suggest that any enhancement to the role of paralegals necessarily improves the laudable goal of access to justice, somewhere there is a line across which paralegals should not cross. Otherwise, what is the functional value to a client of hiring someone with the extensive training of three-year university degree followed by a period of mandatory articling if we presume that a much less rigorous paralegal training followed by some weekend CPD courses makes a person professionally capable to defend complex cases with the potential for lengthy jail terms?

  4. Jordan – Good points. The blatant conflict of interest still concerns me. If Benchers and LSUC can truly divorce themselves from the interests of lawyers, then the system can and will work. Lawyers already have the CBA to look after our commercial interests, that is not what the regulator or Benchers should be doing.

    Edward – I find when I speak to lawyers across the country that we truly do live in silos – we each believe that our own practice area accurately reflects what others do, that the issues are the same, and that our own experiences are true across the profession. Can paralegals do everything a lawyer does in all practice areas? Nope. Can paralegals be doing more in some practice areas? Yes. This is why the motion was important and why I remain concerned about how LSUC and Ontario Benchers operate.

  5. David Cheifetz

    Mitch –

    First: If one really want to know why the motion was withdrawn, why not ask those who caused it to be withdrawn? My recollection of the LSUC email I received – I didn’t keep it – was that it withdrawn at the request of the people who filed the motion. Sometimes one should first go to the horse’s mouth (or the other end as appropriate).

    Otherwise, statements such as “So we are left to speculate.” and “This is why the motion was important and why I remain concerned about how LSUC and Ontario Benchers operate.” could be taken to indicate that the writer believes there is something nefarious going on.

    Second: the LSUC has been given the statutory duty to manage people engaged in the practice of law, as that concept is defined in the statute. If paralegals are engaged in the practice of law, then the LSUC is required to manage them. You are correct that there is the potential for competition and conflict between lawyers and paralegals to the extent that both groups are entitled to and want to perform the same service. But, that same potential exists between lawyers.

    Your point, stripped of its rhetoric, amounts to the claim that the Benchers, because they are primarily lawyers, will prefer lawyers (as a group, or individually) over paralegals (as a group, or individually) regardless of the public interest.

    I’m sure you see the problem with that statement without me having to go farther but, to make sure everyone reading this gets the point, let’s change our preference categories to something many people will be more familiar with.

    Would you have claimed that the Benchers will prefer male lawyers and paralegals over female because most of the Benchers are male?

    Or Christian male lawyers and paralegals over all others because most of the Benchers are nominally Christian?

    Or two-legged male lawyers etc.?

    Or, where the competition is between lawyers, their friends?

    If you wouldn’t, then what you’re claiming is that there’s something about the relationship between lawyers and paralegals that makes it necessary for us to conclude that, at least as a group – therefore necessarily individually in some cases – the people who make up the Benchers will put self-interest (meaning the interest of lawyers) ahead of the public interest (whatever that means).

    If I were a Bencher, I’d be pissed at your suggestion I’m incapable of putting the public interest ahead of my own.

    Actually, if you’re right, and if we take your argument to its logical conclusion – I don’t need to quote the Latin phrase, do I? – somebody prepared to be a Bencher, or who has been a Bencher, isn’t qualified to be a judge in Ontario. I’m sure you didn’t mean that.

    If your point is that lawyers ought not to be governing paralegals merely because the potential for competition for business (hence conflict) means its not in the public interest, then admit it up front.

    Switching topics, I admit that I got a chuckle out of reading your reply to Edward. That’s because, at least in your writing on SLAW you tend to speak about lawyers as if our practices are essentially fungible. I’m relieved to see that that’s merely an artifact of limited space.

  6. David Cheifetz

    For those who don’t wish to read my longer reply, here’s a brief summary of a key point. There’s nothing about the so-called pickle that suggests it isn’t kosher.

  7. I’m a paralegal and here’s my 5 cents since the penny is done as a dodo: http://t.co/MwOtFrL2ey

  8. Alice Woolley

    David,

    I don’t think it is defying credulity to suggest that there may be an issue with a body composed primarily of lawyers regulating both lawyers and those who compete with them. It’s a reasonable apprehension of bias question: how would the reasonable and well-informed person view this?

    Further, I would suggest that the onus to demonstrate the capacity to regulate in the public interest rather than in the interests of the profession lies with the law societies themselves. They may be able to discharge that onus but I think it is fair to ask whether they have done so.

    To be clear, I am not suggesting that it is impossible for lawyers to regulate lawyers in the public interest. I am only suggesting that if one believes at all in the free market idea that most people pursue their self-interest, it is reasonable and appropriate to ask – as this post does – whether they have done so.

  9. From what I understand the paralegals were handwringing over the animosity that was roiling before the AGM. The paralegals would rather have friends than enemies over the issue.

    As a paralegal, as much as I hate to admit it, lawyers and paralegals are not equal. It is only in the arenas we descend into, and the rules imposed on those arenas is where equality is found.

    For the lawyers out there: although not equal, we are stakeholders in the “justice system” and lawyers will have to find a way to acknowledge that fact.

  10. The motion cherry-picked 3 out of 11 recommendations. It was thus framed in such a way as to do more harm than good for the proponents’ cause. The movers of the motion are to be commended for changing their minds. Changing one’s mind in the face of overwhelming reason is an ability many at the bar fail to acquire. So bravo to our paralegal colleagues, for showing maturity over self-interest.

  11. David, – the email notice from LSUC merely said that the motion “has been withdrawn by the ten members who signed the motion.”

    When the CEO of LSUC tweeted about the withdrawal I asked him for an explanation and got no response. From my contacts who attended the AGM, I understand that the question of “why?” was raised at the AGM, but not answered.

    LSUC was only recently given the mandate to regulate paralegals – one, that as I pointed out, it should have declined due to the obvious conflict.

    Avoidance of conflicts is a core value of the profession.

    I understand your comments about Christian two-legged male lawyers. But let’s consider some more relevant examples.

    A judge is not permitted to adjudicate a matter involving her family or friends. In fact, judges who retire then go back into private practice and appear in front of their judicial peers, or act against counsel they once adjudicated, are now subject of hot debate.

    I am not permitted to act for a buyer and a seller in a land transaction.

    Given these examples, it stretches the credibility of LSUC that lawyers should be able to regulate a direct competitor.

    Lee’s comment indicates that the paralegals who brought the motion were “faced with overwhelming reason,” (read: “overwhelming pressure”).

    Simon’s comments also suggest that “fear” may have been a factor behind the last minute withdrawal.

    Is this the Law Society that we want to be part of? One in which paralegals are afraid to challenge the existing order?

    If Benchers don’t like my passion to make the profession better for the public and for lawyers/paralegals, and if they are unhappy with my comments – I can live with that.

  12. Mitch,

    Your examples aren’t apt. They all involve issues where lawyers have equal duties towards multiple clients. That’s not the LSUC’s situation in the regulatory context. It’s primary duty is to the public: not lawyers, not paralegals.

    The reason is that Lawyer groups and paralegal groups aren’t the regulators “clients” in the sense that produces the jurisprudence on duties of good faith and conflict avoidance. The LSUC is required to regulate in the public interest. You know where the provision is in the Law Society Act. (For those who don’t, It’s in s. 4.2.3 of the statute: “The Society has a duty to protect the public interest.”. Here’s a link to the statute: http://canlii.ca/t/l355.)

    You seem to believe the LSUC is inherently incapable of properly performing that regulatory function. What that amounts to, in my view, is the claim that, at any given time, the majority of the lawyers who are benchers will be unable or unwilling to comply with the LSA’s mandate.

    Any regulatory body, whether part of a law society, or not, will have to be made up of competent people. That means people with adequate knowledge of the area they’re regulating. Whether or not you like it, that means there will be lawyers on the regulatory body. If your claims of unavoidable conflict are valid, they’d exist just as well for the lawyers on that board and, for that matter, the paralegals. The solution would have to be a regulatory body with no lawyers or paralegals on it, no?

    As to the judges’ example, you’d have to claim that judges (who are lawyers) shouldn’t be allowed to judge any case where some of the parties are lawyers and some aren’t, because there’d be a valid concern that the judge would be biased in favour of the lawyers merely because they’re lawyers and the judges are, too. You’re not making that claim, are you?

    In any event, you believe there’s an inherent conflict in the LSUC regulating both the lawyer and paralegal part of the profession. I don’t, even though I suspect I’m more cynical than you about much of the practicing-lawyer side of the legal profession. You seem to be regard the situation through what I’d describe as jaundiced-coloured glasses. I’ll say merely that you should consider taking them off. It’s not a matter of my wearing rose-coloured glasses. It’s a matter of not approaching the situation with the preconceived notion that the members of the regulatory body are incapable of acting properly.

    Cheers,

  13. Alice,

    “I am only suggesting that if one believes at all in the free market idea that most people pursue their self-interest, it is reasonable and appropriate to ask – as this post does – whether they have done so.”

    If the herring in the first clause were any redder, it would be wearing a Flames’ uniform. Or, too often, this year, the colour of the light behind the Flames’ net, and the Canuck’s net, and the …

    Of course it’s appropriate to ask the question. But the answer should depend on what’s been done, not on doctrine.

    Anyway, your grounds aren’t apt because, as you know, the regulators aren’t permitted to act their self-interest.

    Cheers,

  14. Roy Thomas, Law Society of Upper Canada

    For your information, more details on the decision to withdraw the motion have been posted on the Law Society’s website here.

  15. Roy – Thanks for this!

    David – We clearly have watched two different Convocations. And, as Roy’s link indicates, there is already conflict between lawyers and paralegals; conflict that will only continue to grow as long as the regulator is so heavily controlled by lawyers.

  16. David Cheifetz

    Mitch,

    I can’t imagine why the “CEO of the LSUC” would chose not to reply to you when you approach the situation from the position that he, and the LSUC generally, are incapable of acting properly.

    As I said, given your views, I still wonder why you’d not go to the proverbial horse’s mouth for an explanation from those who filed the motion for their explanation for why they withdrew the motion , rather than going (in your terms) elsewhere on the horse and then complaining you’d didn’t get a response. That’s a “News of the World” level stunt.

    As I also said, different coloured glasses. In any event, the “conflict” will continue only so long as there’s perceived to be not enough lucrative (enough) work for all seeking to stick their heads (or other parts of their anatomy) in the trough.

    As for the merits – I’ll assume you read Mr. Morris’s report. If you did, you’ll have read these paragraphs on p. 12:

    Research commissioned by the Law Society, which is presented comprehensively in the report of its five-year review – the veracity of which I find no reason to challenge – indicates that three-quarters of surveyed paralegals view the Law Society as the appropriate regulatory agency, while only nine per cent do not. The remainder is unsure of the alternative.

    Submissions to this review, even those that raised concerns with aspects of regulation, suggest that the Law Society is universally viewed as the appropriate regulatory body within the broader legal community.

    The Law Society research, supported by key stakeholder submissions to this review and to the Law Society’s five-year review, indicates generally high rates of satisfaction across multiple dimensions of regulation within the paralegal sector.

    My understanding that Mr. Morris is not a lawyer. For what it’s worth, he doesn’t describe himself as a lawyer in the report. He put “MBA” behind his name. The Ontario Attorney-General’s website describes Morris as “a professional writer, communicator and strategist”.
    http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/paralegal_review/default.asp.

    Perhaps you have reason to doubt the veracity of the data provided to Mr. Morris. I’ll leave it that I’m not aware of a reason to assume he’s been co-opted by what you see as the evil empire.

    Cheers,

  17. As a non-lawyer who visits this site from time to time and has posted a few comments, I opened this discussion after noting the large number of comments.

    First, I’ll say simply that I believe there’s no justification for the monopoly granted to the law societies because there’s no quid pro quo, no requirement to serve the public interest at all. The result is self evident. Read Julie Macfarlane’s report for example.

    And I’ll answer one of Mr. Cheifetz’s challenges:

    “As to the judges’ example, you’d have to claim that judges (who are lawyers) shouldn’t be allowed to judge any case where some of the parties are lawyers and some aren’t, because there’d be a valid concern that the judge would be biased in favour of the lawyers merely because they’re lawyers and the judges are, too. You’re not making that claim, are you?”

    I am making that claim, among many others. I’ve been there, more than once. And, being both reasonable and informed, I know what I’m talking about. The entire Canadian legal establishment is in denial.

  18. What research does the LSUC have to conclude that hiring a paralegal will result in lower legal fees and thus access to justice. For instance, lawyer’s are trained and have demonstrated academic aptitude by virtue of the rigours of university, LSAT, Law school and bar admission course. In the event they are reading case law, dictating letter, constructing factums or or other legal related tasks, these will be performed at a much much faster pace then a paralegal given there very limited education and ability to understand legal concepts. For instance, if a lawyer can dictate a 2 page letter in 15 minutes and a paralegal can do it in an hour (if they are lucky) the cost savings would be non existent if the lawyer charges $400.00 per hour and the paralegal charges $100.00 per hour. At the end of the day you are getting a lesser service at the same price.

    This may draw many comments from paralegals suggesting that lawyers and paralegals are equally capable however this is delusional thinking and clearly not supported by fact. If a paralegal could make it to law school, that would be the obvious way to get an expanded scope of practise that they are fighting for currently. Clearly they cannot and that reason would be an academic one.

    This is not an access to justice issue…this is all about money.

    Paralegals want to do Real Estate Transactions claiming it is an access to justice issue. Currently, there is no area in law that is more competitive then real estate. Transactions for sales of real estate are usually a flat fee ranging from $450 -%550 plus the discharge of the mortgage. Total fees are likely under $900.00 for the entire sale or less depending if you shop it around. There is no significant room for movement in these fees. Is the possibility of saving someone $100.00 in legal fees when they are selling their home access to justice…I think not.

  19. Malcolm Mercer

    The issues raised by Mitch are important and well worth addressing. While I don’t agree with much of what he concludes, he has incited a good discussion.

    Where we all agree is that the Law Society, including the benchers, are required to regulate in the public interest and not in the interests of lawyers or paralegals.

    I agree with Mitch and Alice that the self-interest of lawyers and paralegals and the public interest may not always be aligned. It is right that this be kept in mind. Constructively sceptical observation is appropriate. Where I think Mitch goes wrong is to baldy assert a breach of professional values and to baldly condemn this approach to regulation. He blogs in capital letters.

    Sometimes, clients wants a lawyer to act despite a conflicting duty or interest. The client see advantage in that lawyer acting. Perhaps, the lawyer is trusted by the client. Perhaps the lawyer has particular skills. Perhaps the client has invested time and effort bringing the lawyer up to speed about the client’s affairs. Clients are entitled to examine their alternatives and make a practical conclusion as to the risk-reward. Mitch’s bald analysis fails to recognize that this is part of our professional ethics. He seems to say that lawyers can never act where they have a conflicting interest. He is wrong.

    Where there is a conflicting interest, the question is whether there is a better alternative for the client or, by analogy, for the public interest. Mitch obviously believes that there is a better alternative. But he never really elaborates it. He takes the easy route of just being critical.

    I believe that our current approach, despite its inherent risks, is the best available alternative. Lawyers and paralegals elected to act in the public interest treat their responsibilities seriously in my experience. Our experience and pride in our professions are real benefits in regulation. I doubt that the state, or state appointed non-lawyers/paralegals would do a better job. And I believe that state control of lawyers is better limited, if not avoided, in the public interest. I also think that professionalism in day-to-day life is encouraged by self-regulation.

    Alice fairly asks what is the evidence that regulation by lawyer, paralegal and lay benchers is working. Happily, there is good evidence. When paralegal regulation was established, the Ontario government provided for a five year review by an assessor who was neither a lawyer nor a paralegal. The Morris Report concluded that paralegal regulation was a success. This was the opinion of paralegals who were surveyed. This was the unanimous opinion of the Paralegal Standing Committee (a minority of whom are lawyers – I am one of them). The Law Society has already acted on a number of the recommendations of the Morris Report.

    But there was one area of particular concern in the Morris Report namely paralegal education and evaluation. Mr. Morris concluded that improvement was required. While increased scope of practice might be appropriate, public protection required better trained paralegals.

    The withdrawn motion was flawed because it didn’t accurately reflect the conclusions of the Morris Report nor the work already undertaken by the Law Society in response to the Morris Report. I’m glad it was withdrawn.

    But the motion was problematic on another ground. An AGM, with members voting in their own interests based on limited information, is not the best place to resolve these issues. Inevitably, those with the strongest views will attend to state their views and represent their interests.

    There is wisdom in having lawyers and paralegals work together in the Law Society in the public interest. Working together enhances mutual understanding and respect. Different perspectives become better understood. This approach to regulation mirrors our approach to governance in our complicated country with differing regional perspectives and interests.
    In assessing Mitch’s various salvos, it is helpful to try to understand his perspective. Mitch appears to see the issue simply. Lifting constraints on competition will solve most problems. Nothing much else matters. Mitch views restraint and deliberation cynically. When he doesn’t have all the facts, he assumes the worst.

    But the public interest is not so easily advanced and protected. The public interest requires properly educated and trained lawyers and paralegals. Scope of practice is properly tied to appropriate skill and judgment. Our legal system and the administration of justice must be protected as must clients.

    Mitch seems to want to wear, as a badge of honour, that he is prepared to offend. Fair enough when his speculations are accurate. But he is simply wrong when he alleges that lawyer protectionism was brought to bear on the movers of the paralegal motion.

  20. The fact that the majority of population cannot obtain legal services at reasonable cost will eventually result in these solutions: (1) the Ontario government establishing a competing string of law offices providing legal services at cost, thus reducing the law society’s monopoly over the provision of legal services; and, (2) the right to legal services at reasonable cost becoming a constitutional right. The necessary infrastructure to begin the first solution already exists in Ontario; see the (Trebilcock) Report of the Legal Aid Review 2008: or, .
    The second solution will come about after courts first declare that legal services are in fact not available to the majority of the population at reasonable cost.
    Both solutions will occur because the power of the news media and of the internet, interacting, will quickly make widely known these types of information, the cumulative effect of which will force governments and the courts to act: (1) the situations of the thousands of people whose lives have been ruined because they could not obtain the help of a lawyer; (2) the statistics as to the increasing percentages of litigants who are unrepresented and clogging the courts, causing judges to provide more public warnings; (3) the large fees that some lawyers charge; (4) increasing numbers of people being denied Legal Aid and court-appointed lawyers; (5) the many years that law societies have been unsuccessful in coping with this problem which continues to grow worse; (6) people prosecuted for “the unauthorized practice of law” because they tried to help others desperately in need of a lawyer whom they couldn’t afford to hire; (7) that there is no truly effective advertising creating competition among law firms that could cause them to lower their fees; (8) that law societies are too comfortably protected by their monopoly over the provision of legal services, which is why they might block the expansion of the paralegal profession, and haven’t effectively innovated with electronic technology and new infrastructure so as to be able to solve this problem; (9) that when members of the public access the law society website they don’t see any reference to the problem that can assure them that something effective is being done and, (10) in order for the rule of law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the whole of Canada’s constitution be able to operate effectively and command sufficient respect, the majority of the population must be able to obtain a lawyer at reasonable cost. When these types of information come together and “go viral,” (instantly become very popular) it will be too late for the law society to respond persuasively. Lawyers and law societies are feeling pressure, but not yet feeling the pain necessary, to be willing to endure the necessary solutions.
    See this article published on the blog, “Slaw,” entitled: “The End of the Monopoly Over the Provision of Legal Services and Prosecution of the Unauthorized Practice of Law”; published in 2 parts, Feb. 5, 12, 2013; online:
    .
    http://www.slaw.ca/2013/02/12/the-end-of-the-monopoly-over-the-provision-of-legal-services-and-prosecutions-for-the-unauthorized-practice-of-law-part-2-of-2/.
    – Ken Chasse, member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and of the Law Society of British Columbia, Toronto.

  21. But the motion was problematic on another ground. An AGM, with members voting in their own interests based on limited information, is not the best place to resolve these issues. Inevitably, those with the strongest views will attend to state their views and represent their interests.” — Malcolm

    To Malcolm’s point, may I add that there were also rather vocal (and occasionally uncivil) calls to attend this AGM in force to knock the motion down. In light of that, paralegals can surely be forgiven for their apprehension of conflicts of interest.

    David would seem to be arguing that there really is not a problem but if that were true then why was this matter of potential conflicts such a focus in the debates of the Committee for Justice Policy that led to the Access to Justice Act?. It was such a critical issue that the entire process was nearly derailed when it was asked whether the the committee itself, composed of lawyers, could even formulate policy with respect to a competing body. So to suggest this was not then or nor an issue now does not reflect the record.

    As I recall they likened it to ‘Walmart overseeing Zellers’.