The Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA) is urging the Ministry of Ontario’s Attorney General and the Law Society of Upper Canada to reject any paralegal licence to practise in family law, says TLA president Melanie Manchee.
The lawyer group is concerned about recent recommendations that suggest Ontario family law clients could be well served by having specialized licensed paralegals act independently in matters of custody, simple child support, restraining orders, and simple divorce, says a statement from the TLA.
“While licensed paralegals provide competent legal services, in defined areas, and hold an important position in the justice system in Ontario, their training and experience can never provide them with the skill set lawyers have, to view the family law client’s issues in total,” Manchee says.
The TLA comments after the release of Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo’s Family Services Review, Improving Access to Justice for Families: Making the Family Court System Easier to Navigate, which addresses the provision of legal services by persons other than lawyers. The report’s recommendations for improvements to the system to provide better access to justice for litigants include unbundled services, coaching, and better administrative processes in the courthouse.