|For immediate release||January 2, 2013|
Paralegals pilot project aims to reduce price of legal services, increase access to justice
Vancouver – The Law Society, the Provincial Court and the Supreme Court of British Columbia have implemented a new pilot project that allows some paralegals to make limited appearances in court, a first in BC.
“The Law Society’s Benchers are developing ways to improve the public’s access to more affordable legal services,” said Doug Munro, a policy lawyer with the Law Society. “Expanding the range of services paralegals can provide is one way of accomplishing this.”
Until now, paralegals have not been permitted to appear in court on behalf of clients. Under the two-year pilot project beginning this month, designated paralegals have the right of appearance, subject to certain conditions, including:
- The pilot project is limited to family law
- In Provincial Court, paralegals may appear in the Cariboo/Northeast District and Surrey
- In Supreme Court, paralegals may appear in Vancouver, New Westminster and Kamloops
- Paralegals will primarily deal with non-contentious procedural applications
“Together with the courts, we’re trying this out for two years to see whether paralegals can provide these services in an effective and competent manner,” said Munro. “It is our hope that the project succeeds and can eventually be expanded into other areas of law.”
The pilot project follows the regulatory changes implemented by the Law Society last year that allow supervising lawyers to “designate” a maximum of two qualified, experienced paralegals. In addition to appearing in court, designated paralegals may also provide legal advice directly to clients in areas where the supervising lawyer has deemed them capable.
More information about designated paralegals and the pilot project is available on the Law Society’s website.
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the more than 10,000 lawyers in the province, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct that ensure the public is well-served by a competent, honourable legal profession.
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