Lippa responds to bencher candidate comments on paralegals
Comments about paralegals made by some candidates running in the upcoming Law Society of Upper Canada bencher election are disrespectful and dismissive of the role these professionals play in the justice system, says Toronto paralegal Marian Lippa.
Lippa, who is an LSUC paralegal bencher herself, was reacting to comments contained in the platforms of several lawyers running in the election.
“I am astonished by the negative comments being made against paralegals on some of their platforms,” she says. “It will not serve them well. Collegiality, civility and understanding that there's a lack of access to justice plaguing the people of Ontario is what unites us as advocates.”
Lippa has taken issue with several lawyers running in the election who charge that most paralegals lack competence and the knowledge, education or skills to represent people in court. Several bencher candidates claim there is a need to increase the educational requirements for paralegals because they feel the current college diploma isn’t adequate. They are running on a platform that says this needs to be addressed.
Lippa has garnered support from other paralegals on this issue.
She tells AdvocateDaily.com that paralegals are trained to deal with the files they are legislated to handle in court, including Provincial Offences Act offences.
Lippa notes that while paralegals and lawyers have “separate roles” in the justice system, neither profession is better – or more important – than the other.
“We work together,” she says.
These comments about paralegals don't represent what the law society is all about, Lippa says.
“Within it, we are equally respected,” she says. “It’s time that the legal community accepts our role and respects the gap that we fill.”
Paralegals are licensed and regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada.