Decision on paralegal application "disappointing"

A recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision that ruled paralegals are not entitled to sit before the bar and have their cases called on par with lawyers is disappointing and damaging to paralegals’ livelihoods, Toronto paralegal Marian Lippa tells Lawyers Weekly.

“To me it was blatant discrimination, but not to the court,” says Lippa, who launched the application.

“We’ve been licensed and legislated to appear in criminal court, yet we’re not given the same recognition as lawyers,” she adds.

In R. v. Lippa, the article explains that Justice Michelle Fuerst found that determining where individuals sit in a courtroom is the purview of a judicial officer who maintains order and the dignity of the proceedings. Fuerst did not address the issue of tradition, which the article says was cited as a reason for the differential seating by the Newmarket justice of the peace whose jurisdiction was being challenged in this case.

Lippa tells Lawyers Weekly that she dismisses this argument. “Traditions are meant to be changed,” she says.

“At one time, women couldn’t vote, and we were considered chattels. It’s time for change,” she adds.

"The decision did have a positive suggestion that matters be called on a first come first serve basis. This makes sense for both lawyers and paralegals to be able to deal with their matters efficently for themselves and their clients," says Lippa.

Lippa plans to appeal the decision and raise her concerns with the Ministry of the Attorney General.

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