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News: Success of Paralegal Regulation Highlighted in Report

Press release published by Law Society of Upper Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO, Jun 28, 2012- The success of paralegal regulation, beginning in 2007, is the focal point of a five-year report presented by the Law Society of Upper Canada to Attorney General John Gerretsen today at Convocation. A requirement under the Law Society Act, the report shows that paralegals and the public have both benefited from regulation.

The extensive review looked at whether Law Society regulation had established fair and transparent licensing processes, reasonable standards of competence and conduct, and fair and transparent investigative and disciplinary processes for paralegals. It also examined the effect that regulation has had on licensed paralegals and the public who have used their services.

The Law Society of Upper Canada assumed responsibility for the regulation of paralegals in 2007 at the request of the Ontario government, following assessment and study dating back to 1990.

"Ontario was the first jurisdiction in North America to regulate paralegals, and this five-year review will help inform decisions about the future of the system we pioneered," said Attorney General John Gerretsen. "I would like to thank the Law Society of Upper Canada for its hard work in preparing this report. Together, we are building a better, more accessible justice system for all Ontarians."

As part of the review process, the Law Society solicited submissions from paralegals, lawyers, legal organizations and members of the public, and received 26 submissions - 12 from organizations and 14 from individuals. All of these submissions were considered in the preparation of the report.

A consultant conducted extensive research, including focus groups with paralegals and members of the public who have used paralegal services. Online surveys of licensed paralegals and users of paralegal services were also conducted. These research findings helped to inform the report's analysis.

"Results show that paralegals are well on their way to establishing a prestigious and well-regarded profession," said Law Society Treasurer Thomas G. Conway. "Paralegal regulation has provided consumer protection while maintaining access to justice. The Law Society is proud of all that has been accomplished in the past five years and we are pleased to present this report to the Attorney General."

Law Society Paralegal Standing Committee Chair Cathy Corsetti agreed.

"Paralegals feel that regulation has been beneficial and that it has enhanced their professional standing. The review also identifies that there are some opportunities for further consideration. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to further this important work."

Today, more than 4,000 paralegals are licensed and insured, providing consumers throughout the province with more choice, protection and improved access to justice.

Areas of practice include: provincial offences, including traffic court, Small Claims Court, tribunals dealing with such matters as workers compensation, auto insurance benefits and landlord/tenant disputes, and minor matters under the Criminal Code.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.

For More information about the Law Society of Canada

Contact: Contacts:
Law Society of Upper Canada
Roy Thomas

Law Society of Upper Canada
Susan Tonkin