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Paralegal Roundup: News, analysis and opinion published this week

Friday, November 06, 2020 @ 1:58 PM | By Matthew Grace

Matthew Grace %>
Matthew Grace
What is a paralegal and what legal services can they provide? Are paralegals regulated? Is “paralegal” even the proper term to use? The answers to these questions may vary depending on where you are in the country.

The Lawyer’s Daily team set out to investigate what “paralegal” means across Canada and how the profession continues to evolve. Summarized below is coverage we have published this week on the topic including news, analysis and opinion columns.

Canada has mixed approach on regulating paralegals; greater acceptance needed: industry voices
A handful of Canada’s law societies continue to wrestle with the possibility of regulating paralegals, but lawyers at large must first be willing to accept them, appreciate their abilities and relinquish some “turf” in the name of greater access to justice, voices in the industry say.

Law society aiming to broaden scope of services for Ontario paralegals, says treasurer
The Law Society of Ontario will continue to look at ways to expand the services that paralegals can provide across the province, including through a comprehensive study of the profession that is ongoing, said LSO treasurer Teresa Donnelly.

Why paralegals are force behind innovation in law firms
In her analysis article Alison Meredith writes: “Paralegals are already a vital resource to law firms, but with the onslaught of tools on the market that help automate the more mundane and repetitive parts of their work, they are about to become much more valuable.”

Will divorce lawyers be replaced with licensed paralegals?
In his column, Steve Benmor writes: “When the province of Ontario and the Law Society of Ontario appointed former Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo on Feb. 9, 2016, to study the challenges faced by separating spouses who required family law help, she found that 57 per cent of Ontarians could not afford lawyers and therefore had no legal representation in family court.”

Lawyers, law society, illusion of power, proposal for change
In his analysis article, Ian G. Wilkinson writes: “In theory, lawyers allowing paralegals to have seats on committees and at Convocation might make one think the lawyers’ guild was giving up some real power. In practice however, it does no such thing.”

Paralegals and access to justice
In her column, Grazia Condello writes: “Long before becoming a licensed paralegal, I began my career in 1998 as a law clerk in a law firm. Part of my role involved reviewing disclosure and going to the Law Library at 130 Queen St. in Toronto to research case law (before legal research was revolutionized by the Internet).”

Why lawyers should work with paralegals
In her column, Karen Heath writes: “Rewind about five years. I am three weeks post-call and about to test out my litigation chops for the first time in provincial offences court. I have a script. It’s in 24 font and averages about 30 words per page. It includes my name written out so I remember to say it on the record, H-E-A-T-H, first initial K. I kid you not. I clerked, you see, so my in-court appearances were nil compared to my firm-articled compatriots. And I am nervous.”

The lawyer-paralegal relationship in B.C.
In her column, Jennifer Brun writes: “Lawyers and paralegals in British Columbia have been working together to provide client services for as long as there have been formal education programs for paralegals. This partnership brings together complementary skill sets, each founded through education, experiential training and ethical standards. Paralegals are defined by the BC Paralegal Association as those who ‘have legal training and knowledge of the substantive and procedural aspects of law and are capable of independent legal work, performed subject to the general supervision of a lawyer.’ ”

Illustration by Chris Yates/Law360

Matthew Grace is the Managing Editor of The Lawyer’s Daily.