Good Character Assessment

A while back I posted on a proceeding in Ottawa where an applicant was challenging The Law Society’s denial of his application for a paralegal license based on the good character assessment requirement of the licensing procedure. In that post I focused on the incompetence of the applicant based on his own filings in that proceeding. However, I ended with this:

Not surprisingly, the panel denied Alessandro’s application for a license. A bit more surprising is that an appeal panel recently issued this decision:

By Decision and Order dated November 24, 2009, the Appeal Panel ordered as follows:

The Appeal is allowed.
The Order of the Hearing Panel dated April 30, 2009 is set aside.
A new hearing before a different Hearing Panel is hereby ordered. The matter is to be expedited.

No reason is given for the decision, but based on my reading of the history of this proceeding I suspect the appeal was granted based on procedural grounds. It is quite likely the decision of the next panel will be the same, but I’ll be checking back to see the results.

Yesterday in a comment to that post we heard from Jack at with this update:

You are right sir! Nic Alessandro asked for an adjournment of the hearing and it was denied. The appeal was allowed on that basis only. At the new hearing, he was represented by counsel who again asked for another adjournment. That request was denied and again his bid to be licensed was denied. Nic(olino) and his brother Giovanni (Joe) Alessandro were convicted of criminal offences based on the way that they conducted their practice before licensing. For a fee of about $4,000 they guranteed people that they could get their convictions off of their driving records. In order to accomplish what they promised they forget court documents and sent them to the Ministry of Transportation. They were eventually caught, tried and convicted. If they had actually passed the good charatcer test most of us would have been shocked.

The scary part is that there is nothing to prevent our own Nics from calling themselves paralegals here in the United States. We are hopeful that UPL laws will prevent them from operating independently, but depend on law firms to do the character assessment and background checks to keep Nic and his ilk out of the legal system. Unfortunately, this procedure all too often fails. Indeed, some paralegals are so un-reviewed and unsupervised that they are able to embezzle huge sums from the law firms themselves. One managed to grab $1.7 million before being caught!

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