Friday, July 11, 2008

Canadian Paralegals See Positives to Regulation

In Orangeville, not all paralegals see the Law Society of Upper Canada's regulation as a negative. Two well-established paralegal practitioners, Stephen Fielder and Bob Baird, don't expect the costs of being licensed and insured to affect their rates significantly. More importantly, they say that the new rules will be an advantage to the public and to the courts.

The requirement for membership plus insurance will mean a cost to them of about $2,500- $3,000 annually each. Mr. Baird doesn't expect he'll have to raise his fees to cover the new cost, and Mr. Fielder says it'll "make it a bit harder to make ends meet."

The new costs notwithstanding, they welcome the regulations for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the courts are not expected to be delayed by lay representatives who don't understand the rules of procedure or the law.

The understanding isn't only for the new applicant for a paralegal license. Mr. Fielder says he especially welcomes the continuing education, the annual upgrading and reviews.

In addition, both practitioners say they're grateful that the Law Society has produced a brochure stating what the paralegal may and may nor cover, and provides direction on when a lawyer is really needed.

The regulations are covered under Bill 14, The Access to Justice Act, which provides the regulatory authority to the Law Society.

Anyone wishing to become a paralegal must have graduated within three years prior to the application or be graduating from a legal services program in Ontario that contains at least 18 courses, the majority of which must cover areas within the permitted scope of paralegal practice and must include a course or courses on Professional Responsibility and Ethics, and a field placement component of no less than 120 hours.

Paralegals can represent you in the following areas: Small Claims Court; Traffic Court and all other offences heard in Provincial Offences Court; Tribunals (e.g. the Landlord and Tenant Board or the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) and such as pardons, among other things; Criminal Court, for minor matters under the Criminal Code.

(Source: Orangeville Citizen"

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