Posts Tagged ‘protect’

More on the Canadian Example

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

I’ve posted previously on the paralegal licensing program in Ontario asking, “Is Canada Leading the Way?” Today’s post deals with another aspect of licensing – disciplinary hearings and the possibility of losing a license. Here’s the first few paragraphs of a story on www.northernnews.ca:

The organization that oversees the paralegal profession in Ontario is giving a former North Bay paralegal more time to prepare for a disciplinary hearing that could revoke her licence.

Maureen Boldt was found in contempt of court in 2007 for violating a court order that banned her from the unauthorized practise of law after a superior court judge found she prepared a separation agreement, which is something only licensed lawyers in Ontario are allowed to do.

She was sentenced to four months house arrest, which cost her a seat on city council last year because she missed too many consecutive meetings.

The injunction came after Boldt admitted years earlier to illegally practising law by offering legal advice when preparing wills and separation agreements.

Boldt was at Osgoode Hall Monday morning at the start of what was supposed to be a disciplinary hearing that could see her lose her paralegal licence.

As is usually the case, there are differing opinions on what this story illustrates. Some will say it shows the dangers of licensing. No one wants to be in the position of losing their ability to work, i.e., their license, because they made a mistake. Other will look at it as an opportunity to improve the profession and protect the public by providing a way to remove those who should not be in the profession from the profession. They will point out this was not a mistake, but an apparently flagrant violation of the law – a second time violation at that. Those opposing regulation will point to the fact that this woman has already been punished the court’s contempt order.  However, this situation is confronted by attorneys all the time. Should it not also apply to paralegals?

How does the profession acheive the right balance of allowing paralegals the maximum amount of independence to maximize their benefit to the legal system and the public on the one hand, with the need to protect the profession, the legal system and the public from those who cannot or will not handle the responsibility that goes with that independence?

Read the full story at the link above and let me know what you think.