The Law Society of British Columbia has recently discontinued a pilot project which allowed designated paralegals to appear in court. However, that doesn’t mean the LSBC has given up plans to regulate paralegals; legislating the provision of legal services by non-lawyers is still very much on the plate, says LSBC president Herman Van Ommen.
The paralegals-in-court pilot project, which ran from January 2013 until autumn 2015, was part of the LSBC’s “access to justice” initiative. During this pilot project paralegals could independently make procedural appearances in court, for example, and book dates. However, only three members of B.C.’s 1,300-strong bar sent paralegals to court in their stead; this may be because paralegals are less commonly used in B.C. than in a jurisdiction such as Ontario, where about 7,500 paralegals are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
“I think the profession here didn’t know what they could do with paralegals” in court, says Van Ommen.