TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 10, 2012) - The Law Society Act mandates a 5 year review be conducted regarding the implementation of paralegal regulation, assessing both its impact on the profession and its impact on the public.
This review process allowed for reply submissions from stakeholder groups and, as such, the Paralegal Society of Ontario (PSO) and the Licensed Paralegals Association (LPA) co-authored a lengthy submission to be taken under advisement. These submissions, requested by the Ministry of the Attorney General, endeavour to evaluate the success of the current regulatory model.
The research put forth by the PSO and the LPA is crucial to the improved success of the paralegal profession and the public's need for increased access to justice. An acute awareness of the timing and importance of these submissions must be taken into consideration as there are no future reviews mandated by statute to assess the existing regulatory scheme or the subsequent public impact.
As a frame of reference, we may look to one of the PSO's Directors, Marian Lippa, and the discrimination experienced by her, and ultimately the prejudice, perceived or otherwise, caused to her client. Ms. Lippa is one of a growing number of paralegals who have encountered the antiquated attitudes of the justice system which relies upon provisions found in the Barrister's Act mandating the order of calling counsel and the permissibility to sit past the bar. This statute, obviously drafted before the paralegal profession was conceived, must be amended to afford paralegals the same standing as their lawyer counterparts. This outmoded piece of legislation is tantamount to statutorily endorsed segregation amongst legal professionals within our judicial system. The practice causes not only embarrassment to the paralegal profession but also undermines the confidence of the public in choosing a licensed paralegal as a valid and respected choice of legal representative resulting in class-based perceptions. The Superior Court is set to hear Ms. Lippa's application on October 26th, 2012 in Newmarket.
As stakeholders in our judicial system it is our obligation to the citizens of Ontario to bring to light the issues and concerns within the current regulatory model that affect our profession and which directly, or indirectly, affect the quantitative and qualitative levels of access to justice afforded to the public.
To further expand on and discuss the submissions made to the Attorney General of Ontario by the PSO and the LPA, there will be a press conference held for media and invited guests from 6-10pm at Novotel Hotel, Stage Door Room, 3 Park Home Avenue, North York M2N 6L3 (416-733-2929) on October 11, 2012. Appetizers will be served as well as coffee and tea. There will be a cash bar. The press conference is scheduled for 7:30 pm; the authors of the report will take questions and make a short summary of the contents of the report. Copies of the report will be made available to all invitees.
Topics of discussion will include:
The expansion of the paralegal scope of practice into areas such as Family Law, Wills, Real Estate, Incorporations, as well as the integration of Paralegals into the current legal aid system. Also on the agenda are issues related to educational requirements, employment availability and professional standing that are currently effecting the profession.
The PSO and LPA provide education, mentoring and placement opportunities for Ontario paralegals and regularly meet with the Law Society of Upper Canada to advocate for paralegal concerns and the advancement of access to justice for all Ontarians.
"It is often remarked, if a right cannot be exercised, it cannot be said to exist."