September 10, 2018: The Law Society is seeking feedback on a draft model for creating a limited scope license in the area of family law. For details on how to submit your feedback, see the Notice to the Profession.

Seeking a new regulatory framework

The Law Society is working on expanding the kinds of services that can be provided by people other than lawyers to address unmet needs of the public. These alternative legal service providers will be credentialed and regulated by the Law Society. Legislative amendments to the Legal Profession Act are necessary for the Society to create, credential, and regulate new categories of non-lawyer legal service providers, and the Law Society has requested such amendments from the provincial government. In order to be prepared for legislative changes should they be enacted, the Benchers have created the Alternative Legal Service Providers Working Group. That Working Group is focussing on identifying the appropriate scope of practice that alternative legal service providers would be permitted to undertake in order to address unmet and underserved needs for legal services. 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 has prepared a consultation paper including a draft scope of practice for family law legal service provider. The scope of practice document is a draft prepared for the purposes of the consultation. It is not a final proposal.

Following the close of consultation, the working group will consider the responses and make any amendments it considers necessary to the scope of practice under consideration before presenting a final report to the Benchers. Once the Benchers have determined the scope of practice has been settled, the working group will next examine what educational requirements and qualifications are necessary for such alternative legal service providers to become a member of the Law Society and be authorized to provide legal services.

For more information on the background to the initiative and for further policy analysis underlying the Benchers’ decision to explore this initiative, readers may be interested in the following reports:

Towards a New Regulatory Model, a report of the Futures Committee, January 2008

Legal Service Provider Task Force Final Report, December 2013

Report of the Legal Services Regulatory Framework Task Force, December 2014 

Information on similar initiatives in other jurisdictions can be found in the consultation paper.

 

Designated paralegals

Lawyers can designate a paralegal to take on additional duties under their supervision, including to give legal advice and appear before tribunals, as permitted, and at family law mediations. The Law Society encourages lawyers to make use of designated paralegals to provide lower cost legal services to clients who might otherwise not be able to afford the services of the lawyer.

For detailed information about the role of designated paralegals, read the practice resource.

Articled students

The Law Society changed its rules in 2011 to allow articled students to provide certain legal services to the public, provided they are well supervised by a principal. The change reflected the recommendations of the Delivery of Legal Services Task Force Final Report. For further details, see Law Society Rules 2-60(1) to (3).