Which side wears the red coats?

Final exams and publication deadlines have delayed posts on such interesting topics as my discussions with Sallie Davis of Tulane University about that institution’s paralegal education program and with Vivienne Lawack-Davids, Executive Dean of Law at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, about paralegalism in South Africa and a possible paralegal education program at that university. However, this article headlined “Lawyers, paralegals mobilize for skirmish at law society AGM” could not pass without mention:

Family lawyers and paralegals are mobilizing for a clash at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s annual general meeting this week over the expansion of paralegal practice into family law, an issue one lawyer believes is putting “the future of the legal profession” at stake.

‘This isn’t just another sleepy AGM. What’s behind it is the future of the law society and the future of the legal profession,’ says James Morton.

A motion on the agenda for the meeting would, if passed, require the law society to report on the possibility of expanding paralegal practice to include “preparing family law documents, representing before the family court for certain matters, drafting incorporations, and drafting uncontested divorces,” a proposal that’s left family lawyers up in arms.

Now both sides are scrambling to gather enough supporters to pack the meeting and win the vote, which will be decided by a simple count of hands on Wednesday with no proxies allowed.

Nevertheless, a note from the secretary of Convocation this morning pointed out the motion isn’t binding. A law society bylaw “provides that no motion carried at the annual general meeting is binding on Convocation,” said
Katherine Corrick. “If passed, Convocation is required to consider the motion within six months.

“The paralegal scope of practice is an issue entirely within the authority of Convocation. Of course, an examination of this issue would include wide consultation with lawyers and paralegals.”

Follow the link for more.

I have previously posted on the concept of paralegals and lawyers as competitors rather than the legal team we have here in the U.S.  My hope is that we may yet find a middle ground where paralegals gain the maximum ability to aleviate the access to justice problem in the United States.

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