Expanding the scope of services provided by alternative legal service providers

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).

Seeking a new regulatory framework

The Law Society is working on expanding the kinds of services alternative legal service providers can offer to the public. To protect the public interest, alternative legal service providers must be credentialed and regulated. Legislative amendments to the Legal Profession Act are necessary for the Law Society to create, credential and regulate new categories of non-lawyer legal service providers. The Law Society is working to determine whether a legislative amendment is possible and how best to seek such an amendment.

Timeline

2016

The Law Society is undertaking discussions relating to amendments to the Legal Profession Act to authorize the creation of new classes of regulated legal service providers, which could include paralegals — in addition to lawyers.


2014

The Law Society created the Legal Services Regulatory Framework Task Force. In its report, the task force identified areas of law where alternative legal service providers could address unmet and under-served legal needs. Download the 2014 report of the Legal Services Regulatory Framework Task Force


2012

The Legal Service Providers Task Force was created in 2012 to examine whether the Law Society should regulate just lawyers or whether it should regulate all legal service providers. Its final report makes three recommendations that require further analysis, collaboration and consultation. The recommendations are:

  1. That the Law Society seek to merge regulatory operations with the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia, so the Law Society would become the regulator of both lawyers and notaries
  2. That a program be created to provide paralegals who have met specific, prescribed education and training standards with a certificate that would allow them to be work as “certified paralegals.”
  3. That the Law Society develop a regulatory framework by which other existing providers of legal services, or new groups who are neither lawyers nor notaries, could provide credentialed and regulated legal services.