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. To protect the public interest, 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 when they are enacted, the Benchers have created the Alternative Legal Service Provider Working Group. The working group is focusing on identifying the appropriate scope of practice that alternative legal service providers would be permitted to do to address unmet needs for legal services in relation to family law. Once they have identified that scope of practice, the working group will examine what educational requirements and qualifications are necessary to become a member of the Law Society authorized to provide such services as an alternative legal service provider. There will be opportunities for consultations and input from the family bar and others. 

Background

For more information on the background to the initiative and for 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 

For information on similar initiatives from other jurisdictions, please review:

Ontario – Family Legal Services Review: Report submitted to Attorney General (Ontario) by Justice Annemarie Bonkalo, December 31, 2016

Washington State – Limited License Legal Technicians and Washington State court order

Utah – Report and Recommendations of the Supreme Court Task Force to Examine Limited Legal Licensing, November 2015

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).