Decision for paralegals adjourned until Oct. 26

Toronto paralegal Marian Lippa’s application to overturn a Justice of the Peace’s decision banning paralegals from sitting past the bar will be heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice Oct. 26.  Read Lawyers Weekly   

“It’s a precedent-setting case,” Lippa, of Lippa Legal Services, says of the case, which was heard in court Monday, Oct. 1 and adjourned until Oct. 26. “It would finally recognize paralegals in criminal law as having the same standing as the lawyers.”

Lippa launched the Certiorari application in Newmarket Superior Court to overturn JP G.M.K. Forrest’s decision on the ban and for requiring paralegals be called in accordance with the Barrister’s Act to handle criminal matters.

Lippa says she is bringing the application on behalf of all of Ontario’s paralegals. She notes that since Forrest’s decision on June 10, 2010, the practice of disallowing paralegals to sit before the bar and wait to be called – often last – is spreading province-wide.

“The Law Society Act doesn’t consider us officers of the court yet,” she says. “Those officers of the court have special privileges and are recognized so because we’re not defined as that it poses a problem.”

In her affidavit, Lippa says Forrest told her “court traditions required that counsel be given precedence before the court. The Justice remarked that I may not have been aware of those traditions, but that for ‘hundreds of years’ seating past the bar was reserved for counsel.”  Read Affidavit

Meanwhile, Lippa says Forrest relied on a paragraph in the Barrister’s Act that states matters shall be called in order of the lawyers’ call to the bar – that effectively leaves paralegals to go last, even if they turn up in court and sign in first at 9 a.m. See Barrister’s Act

Lippa says paralegals often wait up to two to three hours to do a routine set date matter which diminishes their ability to be efficient for their clients and impedes their livelihood.

What is Lippa’s ultimate goal?

“To bring respect to our profession so that we can earn a living and be seen by the public as recognized litigators on their behalf.”

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