Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Paralegal Speaks Out Against LSUC Regulation

While paralegal regulation is certainly necessary, it does need to be very well planned. In this opinion piece by Marshall Yarmus, an independent paralegal operating in Toronto and the former vice president of both the Paralegal Society of Ontario and the Paralegal Society of Canada, reasons why the Law Society of Upper Canada's paralegal regulation is hurting paralegals and consumers are detailed. Paralegals in Canada do represent clients in court, however, unlike paralegals in the United States.

Paralegal fees have risen this year as the law society imposed two unnecessary expenses on paralegals. [They] are now required to carry $2 million in error-and-omissions insurance.

This is the same amount that lawyers must carry. ...This just adds extra costs, which the consumer ultimately has to pay.

Since paralegals charge less then lawyers, they often need to work on a greater volume of files to stay profitable. Since May 1, paralegals have been required to operate the same trust accounts as lawyers.

Operating trust accounts properly is labour-intensive and expensive, whether paralegals do the accounting themselves or hire a bookkeeper.

When a consumer gives a retainer to a paralegal they need to know that their money is safe, but the law society had other alternatives. A low-cost fidelity bond, which other professions use, protects the consumer without adding the cost of administering a trust account.

Paralegals are not the same as lawyers. Just because a system is in place for lawyers, doesn’t make it right for paralegals.

(Source: Law Times)

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