|For immediate release||December 9, 2013|
Law Society governors approve joint task force recommendations on the future of legal service regulation
Vancouver – At their December meeting, the Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia unanimously approved in principle three recommendations that could transform the regulation and delivery of legal services in BC.
These recommendations are the culmination of many years of review capped by a year consulting and studying the question of whether various legal service providers, including lawyers, notaries public and paralegals, should be brought under one regulatory umbrella. The Legal Service Providers Task Force presented its final report on December 6, 2013.
The Benchers approved the following task force recommendations:
- The Law Society and the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia seek to merge regulatory operations.
- That a program be created by which the legal regulator provide paralegals who have met specific, prescribed education and/or training standards with a certificate that would allow them to be held out as “certified paralegals.”
- That the Law Society develop a regulatory framework by which other providers of legal services could provide credentialed and regulated legal services in the public interest.
While details of the proposals will need to be developed in consultation with the notaries, government and others, task force Chair Bruce LeRose, QC said approving the recommendations in principle was an important first step. “Access to justice is slipping out of reach for many British Columbians,” said LeRose. “It is critical that the Law Society look for ways to reverse that trend, and these ideas could be a big part of that.”
Law Society President Art Vertlieb, QC called the Benchers' unanimous support for the motion a “watershed moment in the Law Society’s history.”
The members of the task force are past Law Society president Bruce LeRose, QC (chair); current governors Ken Walker, QC (vice-chair) and Satwinder Bains; Godfrey Archbold, president of the Land Title Survey Authority; John Eastwood, past president of the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia; Carmen Marolla, vice-president of the British Columbia Paralegal Association; and Kerry Simmons, past president of the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch.
“It is encouraging to see our justice partners work together to transform the regulation and delivery of legal services to the citizens of our province. The Law Society has shown tremendous leadership and the recommendations made today signal that progress is being made to improving access to justice for British Columbians.” Hon. Suzanne Anton, QC, Attorney General & Minister of Justice
“BC Notaries look forward to working with the Law Society, our members and with the Ministry of Justice in taking the next step to ensure that any merging of regulation continues to offer protection, continued and expanded choice and improved access to legal services for the public.” Wayne Braid, Chief Executive Officer, The Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia
“The BC Paralegal Association is extremely pleased with this outcome. We wish to express our congratulations to the Task Force on an excellent report, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Law Society to develop the criteria for certification for paralegals, and to consider how best to create the regulatory framework to be developed for stand-alone legal service providers.” Carmen Marolla, Director, BC Paralegal Association
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the more than 11,000 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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