Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

December 11, 2013 09:37 ET

Legislation Passed to Increase Number of Law Society Paralegal Directors

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 11, 2013) - The Ontario legislature today passed legislation that will result in enhanced Law Society governance by increasing the number of elected paralegal benchers from two to five.

Bill 111, An Act to amend the Law Society Act and the Solicitors Act, was first introduced by Attorney General John Gerretsen on October 1, 2013, following election reforms adopted by the Law Society's board of directors last spring.

"Passage of this legislation represents a significant milestone in the regulation and development of Ontario's growing paralegal profession," says Law Society Treasurer Thomas G. Conway. "Ultimately, these and other amendments included in the legislation will help pave the way for more effective and accessible legal services in Ontario."

Previously, two of the five licensed paralegals elected as members of the Law Society's Paralegal Standing Committee were elected as benchers (directors), to fully participate in and vote at Convocation, the meeting of the Law Society's board.

The Law Society first began regulating paralegals in 2007 to improve protection of the public. An independent five-year review conducted by David Morris found that the regulation of paralegals by the Law Society was a "remarkable success." His series of recommendations included the need to revise the Law Society's governance structure.

"I am extremely pleased with the commitment shown by the government and the Law Society to further strengthen paralegal regulation in Ontario," says Cathy Corsetti, chair of the Law Society's Paralegal Standing Committee. "These new enhancements to Law Society governance are an important first step in implementing the Morris report recommendations."

Other amendments introduced in Bill 111 also enable the Law Society to strengthen its hearing and appeals process for alleged cases of professional misconduct involving lawyers and paralegals, making it more transparent, fair and cost-effective. This includes the provision for the appointment of an independent Tribunal Chair who is not a Law Society bencher.

The Law Society thanks The Hon. John Gerretsen, for his leadership and support, the House Leaders from all three parties for their co-operation and assistance: The Hon. John Milloy, Jim Wilson and Gilles Bisson. The Law Society also thanks members of provincial parliament who joined in the debate, including: Julia Munro, Jagmeet Singh, Sylvia Jones and Christine Elliott.

The Law Society of Upper Canada regulates more than 5,600 paralegals. Principal areas of practice include Small Claims Court, traffic and other provincial offences, landlord-tenant and various other tribunals, and minor matters under the Criminal Code.

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