Paralegal motion for expanded practice withdrawn

A motion asking the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) to create a task force to research broadened practice areas for paralegals has been withdrawn, says Toronto paralegal Marian Lippa.

The motion was set to be considered this month at the society’s annual general meeting, Law Times reports, noting the task force would have looked into “establishing the education, training, experience, and other necessary qualifications” that would allow paralegals to practise in areas including immigration and family law as well as construction liens with a broader capacity.

The motion referenced the 2012 report by David Morris that raised the idea of training paralegals to work in areas of the law that now fall outside their scope of practice, the article adds. Read Prior Story

“We didn’t have the numbers to make the vote worth something and the opposition from lawyers was overwhelming,” says Lippa. “The withdrawal should not be interpreted as being submissive … it’s to be interpreted as trying to work towards collegiality.”

Lippa was part of a group of 10 paralegals that signed the motion, and later made the difficult choice to axe it, she says.

A press release posted on behalf of the group says the decision wasn’t easy.

“The motion had become a war pitting lawyers against paralegals,” the release states. “This was never our intention.”

The release continues: “We, paralegals and lawyers, should be striving for a more collegial relationship because after all, looking at the ‘big picture’ we are both aiming for the same goal, to provide affordable access to justice for the people of Ontario.

“Surely we can work together as members of the same law society and provide a framework and joint submission to the LSUC as to the required education and competencies to ensure that the public is provided with timely, affordable, effective and affordable access to justice,” the release says.

“Clearly there are too many people that are unrepresented in our courts, the work ahead of us is to find solutions to address this issue.”

Lippa says the goal of the motion was to ensure the law society had the issue on its radar, and she believes that has been accomplished.

“They’ve gotten the message and they’ve assured us things are going to move forward,” she says.  “They've assured us they’re on top of it.”

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