The Licensed Paralegal Task Force is exploring the potential for licensed paralegals to address areas of unmet need in the legal services market. This initiative stems from a recommendation by the Legal Services Regulatory Framework Task Force in December 2014 that the Law Society seek a legislative amendment to the Legal Profession Act to authorize the Law Society to establish, regulate, and create the credentialing requirements for new categories of legal service providers to address areas of unmet and underserved legal need. 

The Benchers created the Licensed Paralegal Task Force to explore opportunities through which the powers provided to the Law Society through the amendments to the Act could be implemented. The task force’s mandate is to:

1) consider and identify opportunities, in consultation with the profession and others, for the delivery of legal services in areas where there is a substantial unmet legal need and the public would benefit from the provision of those services by licensed paralegals; and

2) if the task force identifies areas of legal services where licensed paralegals may meet an unmet legal need:

a. consider the scope of services that would be appropriate for licensed paralegals to provide in relation to the identified areas of legal services;

b. consider what education, qualifications, credentials, experience and insurance would be necessary to enable licensed paralegals to deliver legal services in a competent and ethical manner in the identified areas of legal services; and

c. make recommendations to the Benchers for a regulatory framework that will ensure that licensed paralegals provide legal services in a regulated, competent and ethical manner only in the identified areas of legal services approved by the Law Society.

The task force is expecting to report to the Benchers on its work before the end of 2020. 

Background

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:

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

Legal Service Provider Task Force Final Report, December 2013

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

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 Rule 2-60(1) to (3).