Do you want to be a lawyer or do legal work? Paralegals may be the new "sole general practitioners" https://t.co/rDswNuVJFt via @PreLawForum
— LSAT PREParation (@LSATPreparation) April 10, 2016
The above tweet references an article from my “Pre-Law Forum” blog.
My motivation for writing this …
Yesterday I found myself involved in a conversation with a lawyer who has been admitted to the Ontario bar for MORE THAN 50 YEARS! Yes, she is still has an active law practice. Interestingly, she is one of the few remaining sole general practitioners in a large urban area. She works on her own (well, she has an administrative assistant) and serves clients in a general way. She manages “every day” legal problems. She is one of the best lawyers I know. But, she is a “jack of all trades” and perhaps a “master of none”. (Or maybe she is a master of all?).
In any event, we were discussing how the practice of law has changed. We were also discussing how the the “paralegal professions” has gradually absorbed the kind of work that general practitioners used to do.
There are lots of people who want to do legal work. It is clear that “paralegals” do substantial legal work” but are NOT lawyers. Might this be of interest to some of you?
I encourage you to read my post which includes:
I am privileged to know a Canadian lawyer who graduated from law school in 1955. She continues to practise law and has practised law for more than 60 years. Think of it – 60 years. In one of our earlier conversations she commented to me:
“So much of what used to be handled by the courts is now handled by specialized tribunals.”
I can see this trend in the years since I graduated from law school. Think of how much is now handled by administrative boards or specialized courts (tax tribunals, landlord tenant tribunals, small claims courts, etc., private arbitrators, etc.). Note that these areas of laws are handled NOT by lawyers but by people who specialize in that particular area of law. The jurisdiction of Ontario “small claims court” is now $25,000.00. That is more than sufficient for the damages in many civil disputes.
To put it simply: a huge percentage of “day-to-day” legal problems can easily be solved WITHOUT lawyers. What is needed is a specialist in “small claims court”, “landlord tenant”, etc. (Note that “landlord and tenant appeals” that go the “Divisional Court of Ontario” will likely require the services of a lawyer.)
The reality is that: Lawyers are very costly, often inefficient and often NOT the most knowledgeable people in certain routine areas.
To put it simply:
Lawyers have often “priced themselves out of the market”. To be fair, Canadian Law Societies have imposed high regulatory costs on lawyers. These costs must be passed on to clients. But, clients don’t care about the “overhead costs” of lawyers. Why should clients pay these costs if they can get their work by “paralegals” done less expensively?
Much of what lawyers used to do is now done by paralegals
Ontario Paralegal – Career path or waste of time? – Paralegals https://t.co/9mP3YfHJgU
— Paralegal Prep (@ParalegalPREP) December 31, 2015
In the Province of Ontario “Paralegals” are licensed and regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada – specifically Bylaw 4. The range of activities that a “Paralegal” is permitted to do is quite extensive.
Bylaw 4 – What is a Paralegal, a “P1 licence” and what is a paralegal permitted to do?
LICENCE TO PROVIDE LEGAL SERVICES
Classes of licence
5. There shall be the following classes of licence to provide legal services in Ontario:
1. Class P1.
Scope of activities
6. (1) In this section, unless the context requires otherwise,
“claim” means a claim for statutory accident benefits within the meaning of the Insurance Act, excluding a claim of an individual who has or appears to have a catastrophic impairment within the meaning of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule;
“party” means a party to a proceeding;
“proceeding” means a proceeding or intended proceeding,
(a) in the Small Claims Court,
(b) in the Ontario Court of Justice under the Provincial Offences Act,
(c) in a summary conviction court under the Criminal Code (Canada),
(d) before a tribunal established under an Act of the Legislature of Ontario or under
an Act of Parliament, or
(e) before a person dealing with a claim or a matter related to a claim, including a mediator, a person performing an evaluation, an arbitrator or the Director acting under section 280, 280.1, 282 or 283 or 284, respectively, of the
Insurance Act; “Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule” means the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule within the meaning of the Insurance Act.
(2) Subject to any terms, conditions, limitations or restrictions imposed on the class of licence or on the licensee and subject to any or der made under the Act, a licensee who holds a Class P1 licence is authorized to do any of the following:
1.Give a party advice on his, her or its legal interests, rights or responsibilities with
respect to a proceeding or the subject matter of a proceeding.
2. Represent a party before,
i. in the case of a proceeding in the Small Claims Court, before the Small
ii. in the case of a proceeding under the Provincial Offences Act, before the Ontario Court of Justice,
iii. in the case of a proceeding under the Criminal Code, before a summary conviction court,
iv.in the case of a proceeding before a tribunal established under an Act of the Legislature of Ontario or under an Act of Parliament, before the tribunal, and
v.in the case of a proceeding before a person dealing with a claim or a matter related to a claim, before the person.
3.Anything mentioned in subsection 1 (7) of the Act, provided the activity is required by the rules of procedure governing a proceeding.
4. Select, draft, complete or revise, or assist in the selection, drafting, completion or revision of, a document for use in a proceeding.
5. Negotiate a party’s legal interests, rights or responsibilities with respect to a proceeding or the subject matter of a proceeding.
6.Select, draft, complete or revise, or assist in the selection, drafting, completion or revision of, a document that affects a party’s legal interests, rights or responsibilities with respect to a proceeding or the subject matter of a proceeding.
The scope of work that paralegals are permitted to do is astounding! In fact, the scope is broad enough to include many of the activities that “general practitioner lawyers” used to do.
Bylaw 4 – How does one get a P1 (Paralegal) license?
How to Become a Paralegal in Ontario – ON | Paralegal Certification | Legal Assistant Job Description https://t.co/iZVvIPoe6s
— Paralegal Prep (@ParalegalPREP) December 31, 2015
Requirements for issuance of Class P1 licence: application received after June 30, 2010
13. (1) The following are the requirements for the issuance of a Class P1 licence for an applicant who applies for the licence after June30, 2010:
1. The applicant must have graduated from a legal services program in Ontario that was, at the time the applicant graduated from the program, an accredited program.
2. The applicant must have successfully completed the applicable licensing examination or examinations set by the Society by not later than two years after the end of the licensing cycle into which the applicant was registered.
As always, there are some exceptions, exemptions and descriptions of “special circumstances”. (To learn about them, I suggest you read the entire rule.)