Law Times

April 29, 2013

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ACCESS TO JUSTICE LAW FIRM BRANDS Norton Rose Canada tops new survey Follow LAW TIMES on $4.00 • Vol. 24, No. 15 P5 Jones offers key lessons for profession FOCUS ON P6 L Aw TIMes P8 Aboriginal Law CO V E R I N G O N TA R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W. L AW T I M E S N E W S . CO M April 29, 2013 Time to expand paralegal rights? ntitled-4 1 12-03-20 10:44 A LSUC motion, association memberships consider barriers between professions BY YAMRI TADDESE Law Times A s law associations have begun welcoming them into their ranks, paralegals are yet again seeking to expand the scope of their practice in a new motion that's stirring up controversy ahead of its discussion at the Law Society of Upper Canada's annual general meeting in May. The motion will ask the law society to create a task force to research the possibility of an expanded scope of practice for paralegals in areas including, but not limited to, immigration and family law as well as construction liens. The task force would look into "establishing the education, training, experience, and other necessary qualifications" that would allow paralegals to practise in those areas with a broader capacity. Paralegals have proposed similar motions in the past. Toronto paralegal Marshall Yarmus, who's again spearheading the motion, says the law society had previously expressed a commitment to study the matter but has so far done little to address it. Family and immigration law groups are already expressing their vehement opposition to a motion they say will dilute the standards in their practice areas. "We're really, seriously concerned about public protection," says Victoria Starr, chairwoman of the Family Lawyers Association, who's expressing alarm about the quality of family law services paralegals would provide. "Often, family law cases are far more complex than they look at first blush and so there is a tendency to 'This isn't about lawyers making money or paralegals making money. This isn't about turf. This is about protecting the public,' says Victoria Starr. Photo: Robin Kuniski oversimplify the issues, the rights, and everything involved in the case," she says. She adds: "This isn't about lawyers making money or paralegals making money. This isn't about turf. This is about protecting the public." Prior to regulation by the law society, paralegals were able to act in uncontested divorces. Now, all family law work they do has to be under the supervision of a lawyer, something Yarmus says needs to change. "I still get a lot of requests from people for different family law matters," he says. "Some of those things paralegals were able to do prior to regulation." When it comes to immigration law, "the law society still takes the position that paralegals should be restricted to tribunals" despite a federal amendment that allows licensed paralegals to prepare documents for cases outside the jurisdiction of tribunals, says Yarmus. "Really, what we're asking them to do is to review . . . what has to be done to allow us to expand into these areas of practice . . . to allow us to fully practise in them," says Yarmus. "This motion wouldn't be brought had the law society followed through with its commitment three years ago to study these areas of practice," he says. Lawyer Raoul Boulakia, a member of the executive of the Refugee Lawyers Association, says it's "disturbing" that the law society would consider a motion like this one. "It really trivializes what we do," says Boulakia. "Having refugees represented at the refugee board or the Refugee Appeal Division by non-lawyers is very See Changes, page 4 Ontario's licence-refusal scheme shot down Law Times T 'The decision cries out to an appellate review,' says Michael Nowina. he Ontario government can't refuse to renew the driver's licences of bankrupts who haven't paid their debts to the province, a Superior Court judge has ruled. Refusing to renew a driver's licence is one of the remedies the province uses against debtors who haven't kept up with their payments. But if these debtors have filed for bankruptcy under federal laws, the province should no longer be able to decline licence renewals, according to the court. Provisions that allow the Ontario government to force its debtors to pay up go against the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act aimed at protecting bankrupts from creditor sanctions and giving them a "fresh start," the court found. In Ontario (Finance) v. Clarke and Superintendent of Insurance for Ontario, applicant Sandra Clarke had been in a 1995 car accident in which her passenger suffered an injury. Clarke, who was driving without insurance, was on the hook for $55,000 in damages to the injured passenger. Since Clarke couldn't afford to pay the judgment, the provincial motor vehicle accident claims fund paid the passenger and made Clarke its debtor. But in August 2009, Clarke filed for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. In a decision contrary to how the court ruled in Moore v. 407 ETR Concession, Superior Court Justice Robert Goldstein said the province's leverage in the matter conflicts with federal bankruptcy laws and impedes on the fresh-start principle. The Ministry of Finance argued otherwise, saying a driver's licence is a privilege and not property that can be taken out of a bankrupt's assets. Goldstein disagreed. "In this case, the property is not Ms. Clarke's driver's licence but the funds used to make the instalment payments," he wrote. "Those funds are not available to other judgment creditors." The province's licensing scheme also "offends the 'fresh PM #40762529 BY YAMRI TADDESE See Claim, page 4 Get more online • Fresh Canadian legal news and analysis every day Canadian Lawyer | Law Times | 4Students | InHouse | Legal Feeds Visit Us Online 1-8-5X.indd 1 2/28/11 2:37:34 PM

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