at spirited law society
Despite a setback in passing a
resolution on the enhanced use
of paralegals, president Bruce
LeRose of the Law Society of
British Columbia says the issue
remains “front and centre” for
However, the B.C. Paralegal
Association (BCPA) wants the
society to move further, including
a clear definition of what paralegals are and their duties, and
possible certification by the society, said BCPA vice-president
conduct was withdrawn on May
11 at a benchers meeting, because
of concerns regarding insurance
and the scope of paralegal roles.
“There has to be some clear
definition and meat to what the
title is,” Crnkovic said, adding
that anyone can call themselves a
paralegal in B.C.
Bencher Ken Walker said the
level of work being proposed for
paralegals was greater than that
for the expanded role for articling
students. “I’m hesitant to go this
far with paralegals when we
weren’t prepared to go this far
with our students.”
paralegal as a trained professional
who “works under the supervision
of a lawyer, possesses adequate
knowledge of substantive and
procedural law relevant to the
work delegated by the supervising
lawyer; and possesses the prac-
tical and analytic skills necessary
to carry out the work delegated by
the supervising lawyer.”
“The law society hasn’t
addressed that issue.”
A resolution to amend the law
society’s rules of professional
Benchers in October, 2010,
endorsed the recommendations
of the Delivery of Legal Services
Task Force Report, increasing the
roles of paralegals and articled
students. The report defined a
The task force suggested para-
legals not be allowed to give or
receive undertakings, that the
society work with the courts to
determine what forms of advo-
cacy paralegals should be permit-
ted to perform, and that para-
legals should be allowed to give
There must be a point at which you
trust members...we’re not nannies.
Getz Prince Wells
legal advice on matters in which
the supervising lawyer has
deemed the paralegal competent.
Bencher Leon Getz said there
may at some point need to be
licensing of paralegals in B.C.
While the suggested cap for
the number of paralegals a lawyer
could supervise was two, some
suggested it should be at the discretion of the lawyers involved.
That led to suggestions during
the May 11 meeting that some
lawyers could set up paralegal
mills in satellite offices, with the
potential for insurance risks.
“There must be a point at
which you trust members,” Getz
said. “We’re not nannies.”
“Actually, we are,” interjected
bencher Tom Fellhauer.
Crnkovic told The Lawyers
Weekly a cap would create tiers of
paralegals, an issue that has yet to
be discussed by the BCPA board.
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JEREMY HAINSWORTH VANCOUVER
Lawyers in British Columbia
will be required to turn over confidential documents to the provincial law society if ordered to do
so as part of a disciplinary investigation, as a result of amendments to the Legal Profession Act.
It means a lawyer would be
forced to surrender documents
subject to privilege and confidentiality, Law Society of British Columbia general counsel Jeffrey
Hoskins told benchers at the May
11 meeting. “In the hands of the
law society, the duty to protect
that privilege falls on the law
society,” he said.
The amendments include the
repeal of s. 89 of the Act, which
provided protection for documents that may include privileged information. It required
that these documents be sealed
and held by a third party until
such time as the client could be
located. As well, an application
was required to be filed before a
B.C. Supreme Court judge, to
determine if the documents could
be disclosed to the law society.
Bruce LeRose, president of the
law society, told The Lawyers
Weekly that the B.C. Court of
Appeal’s decision in Skogstad v.
The Law Society of British Columbia, 2007 BCCA 310, upheld
the society’s authority to examine
privileged information as long as
there was no breach of the privilege. “The change to the Legal
Profession Act is just enshrining
that,” he said.
The protection contained in s.
89 was cited in a recent Law Society of Upper Canada disciplinary
hearing where Toronto family lawyer Jodi Feldman is challenging its
investigative powers, arguing they
violate the Charter of Rights.
An LSUC panel was told the
ability to compel the production
of solicitor-client communications on the basis of a “reasonable
suspicion” that the communications “may relate” to a complaint
does not meet the standard of
reasonableness guaranteed by s.
8 of the Charter. The panel has
not yet issued a ruling on the
challenge brought by Feldman. n
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