Project aims to expand access to legal services by non-lawyers
The Law Society of British Columbia has announced that it is accepting proposals from non-lawyers for its pilot project to expand access to legal services.
Launched in Oct. 2021, the LSBC describes the Innovation Sandbox as a “safe space” with relaxed legal services regulations to encourage innovation. In particular, the project provides a structured environment allowing non-lawyers to pilot their proposals to address the “unmet legal needs” in the province.
The LSBC said that individuals, businesses, and organizations interested in providing legal services can submit a proposal for free. The proposal should summarize the services that a participant wishes to pilot, who the expected clients might be, and how the services will advance access to justice.
Once an advisory group has reviewed all proposals, it will recommend some to an executive committee to decide whether to approve a proposal. Participants with approved proposals will demonstrate that their services effectively meet the legal needs in the province. Moreover, they will be required to submit monthly reports to the LSBC.
Most recently, the LSBC approved six proposals submitted by individuals, including three who made joint proposals with law firms to deliver their services:
- Andrea Abbinante – providing personal injury law services offered through Virgin Hickman;
- Courtney Burnett – providing employment law and disability insurance law services offered through Samfiru Tumarkin LLP;
- Bryan Louis Crockett – providing employment law, residential tenancy law, and civil law services;
- Ali Dabaja – providing advice, drafting and reviewing documents, negotiation and representing clients in human rights, employment, residential tenancy, criminal, and regulatory licensing matters;
- Tim Hewson – operation of an online platform called “LegalWills.ca” for users to create, store and share wills, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents;
- Michèle Ross – providing family law advice offered through Virgin Hickman.
“The scope of limited legal services that these providers may offer to the public is set out in ‘no-action’ letters that outline conditions under which they must operate,” the LSBC said.