Roles of Paralegals expanded in BC

The Law Society of British Columbia is expanding the role of Paralegals, making some legal services more affordable to the public.

The role of paralegals in the delivery of legal services has been under discussion by the Law Society for many years.  Task forces and sub-committees have studied whether paralegals should be certified or given an enhanced role.

Paralegals are now able to give legal advice under the supervision of a lawyer.  The advice could be in the preparation of a document, such as a will or a contract or in the form of an opinion.

A two-year pilot project will also be launched on January 1, 2013 and will permit a lawyer to designate paralegals to perform a number of legal services including providing legal advice and appearing in court for certain matters. 

Designated paralegals will be able to give legal advice to clients and make limited court appearances for family law proceedings, which are primarily non-contentious procedural matters. 

These changes will give the public greater accessibility to affordable legal assistance.  “Traditionally, paralegals were not permitted to give legal advice, so while the paralegal may have done much of the background work, it was the lawyer who finalized and gave the legal advice. That process can drive up costs,” says Doug Munro, of the BC Law Society.

The pilot project will be limited to certain jurisdictions.  Supreme Court Proceedings will be limited to Vancouver, New Westminster and Kamloops and Provincial Court proceedings will be limited to Surrey and the Cariboo Northeast District.