Notice to the Profession
September 11, 2018

The Law Society is seeking input from the profession regarding a proposal to establish a new class of legal service professional who would hold a limited scope licence to practise in the area of family law. The consultation paper containing the proposed scope of practice can be found here. The concepts advanced in the scope of practice proposed in Schedule A of the discussion paper are not conclusions. They have been prepared to focus discussion. The Law Society will consider written submissions received via email to consultation2018@lsbc.org or to the Law Society by 5:00 pm on November 16, 2018.

Submissions on this consultation paper are collected under authority of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSBC 1996, c. 165, s. 26(c). The information will be used to analyze and develop the policy initiative described in the consultation. Please note that of all submissions will be published on the Law Society website. If you have any questions about the collection, use or disclosure of this information, contact Michael Lucas in the Policy and Legal Services department, Law Society of British Columbia, 8th Floor, 845 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 4Z9, 604.669.2533 or mlucas@lsbc.org.

In December 2014 the Benchers unanimously adopted a task force report that recommended the Law Society seek an amendment to the Legal Profession Act authorizing it to establish and regulate new classes of legal service providers in order to address unmet and underserved legal needs. Research suggests that as much as 85 per cent of people with a legal problem will not get the assistance of a lawyer. Many of these people are left to solve their legal problems on their own. The Benchers endorsed the recommendation that finding ways to connect these people with educated, regulated and insured legal professionals practising under a limited scope licence would be in the public interest.

Earlier this year the Alternate Legal Service Provider Working Group was established to advance the project. The working group focused first on family law, as it is frequently identified as an area of need where the absence of skilled help can exacerbate the hardship families suffer. The working group held a series of focus group consultations, which provided feedback from lawyers, the judiciary, self-represented litigants and professionals who work at clinics that promote access to justice. The consultation paper is informed by that feedback. The consultation paper explains the background in greater detail, and further information can be found on the Alternate Legal Service Providers page of the Law Society website.

The working group will reconvene after the consultation has closed and will consider the written submissions it receives. It will analyze the proposals in the consultation paper in light of that feedback, and further refine its thinking prior to making a final recommendation to the Benchers regarding the proposal.

The Law Society encourages all lawyers, regardless of their area of practice, to read the report and consider making a written submission on this important initiative.