Amendments allow paralegals to join law associations

Two Ontario law associations recently extended membership access to paralegals in precedent-setting moves that should set a standard for similar organizations across the province, says Toronto paralegal Marian Lippa.

"The Halton County Law Association and the Waterloo Law Association have now included paralegals as full board members," says Lippa. “Paralegals have never been recognized before as being members of any local law association – it’s mainly criminal lawyers."

Until now, Lippa says, paralegals were asked to pay a limited membership fee for access to law libraries only, and were never included as full members or given voting rights or privileges to lawyers' lounges.

“I think in the past they just didn’t want to recognize paralegals or have them included,” she says.

“These associations have broken barriers," says Lippa, noting that in both organizations, bylaws were amended to include paralegals as full voting members with the same privileges lawyers.

The news comes as Lippa continues to wait for a decision in her application to overturn a Justice of the Peace’s decision banning paralegals from sitting past the bar and to have paralegals included in the Barrister's Act.  See Prior Story

The Superior Court of Justice reserved judgment last month.

Lippa says the law associations' moves to include paralegals represents a larger shift in the right direction.

“It’s amazing,” she says. "It shortens the gap of conflict between lawyers and paralegals carrying the same space in and out of the court. It’s a true test of collegiality. I’m very happy.”

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