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September 8, 2014

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LAO project tests expanded paralegal role By yamri taddeSe Law Times n yet another effort at reform, Legal Aid Ontario says it has trained a handful of its staff para- legals to take on expanded roles in criminal courts. The paralegals received train- ing in criminal law and their scope of practice during the last seven months as part of a trial project aimed at delivering access to justice in a cost-effective way. "Working under the direct supervision of a lawyer, the para- legals participating in the study are now providing clients with legal advice, advice on diversion services, and in Ottawa our most experienced paralegal will be pro viding service to clients on pleas, among other duties," LAO said in a recent announcement. Stephen Gilding, a business manager for policy, research, and external relations at LAO, says the expanded role of paralegals will still be within the scope of author- ity they have under Law Society of Upper Canada rules. Paralegals' new role will include dealing with specialty courts, ne- gotiating with the Crown, enter- ing guilty pleas, and sentencing matters, says Gilding. The project is a small study at this point but it could expand if the results are positive, he notes. Para- legals, he adds, won't be replacing lawyers but will provide more sup- port to duty counsel offices. But Haran Aruliah, a duty counsel with LAO who's part of the campaign committee seeking collective-bargaining rights for staff lawyers there, says the orga- nization didn't consult them about the project and how it may affect their roles. "They've pitched it as lawyers . . . mentoring and provid- ing some guidance for paralegals that are in this pilot project, but is that the expectation, that the law- yers at LAO are going to be doing this as part of their job?" he asks. "Any time that I'm putting my professional life on the line, I like to have some input into that and there simply isn't a mechanism for lawyers at legal aid to collectively express their concerns," he adds. THE MOST COMPLETE DIRECTORY OF ONTARIO LAWYERS, LAW FIRMS, JUDGES AND COURTS More detail and a wider scope of legal contact information for Ontario than any other source: ȕ0WFS27,000 lawyers listed ȕ0WFS9,000 law firms and corporate offices listed ȕ'BYBOEUFMFQIPOFOVNCFSTFNBJMBEESFTTFTPGȮDFMPDBUJPOTBOEQPTUBMDPEFT Visit or call 1.800.387.5164 for a 30-day no-risk evaluation 1FSGFDUCPVOEȕ1VCMJTIFE%FDFNCFSFBDIZFBSPOTVCTDSJQUJPOȕ0OFUJNFQVSDIBTF- .VMUJQMFDPQZEJTDPVOUTBWBJMBCMF1SJDFTTVCKFDUUPDIBOHFXJUIPVUOPUJDFUPBQQMJDBCMFUBYFTBOETIJQQJOHIBOEMJOH O N TA R I O L AW Y E R' S P H O N E B O O K Untitled-3 1 14-05-20 3:25 PM Advocate's 17-year journey comes to an end Legal career to begin following dramatic escape from Ethiopia By yamri taddeSe Law Times eklemichael Sahlemari- am's journey to becoming a lawyer started almost 17 years ago. Next week, af- ter advocacy efforts that landed him in big trouble back home, his journey will end as he becomes a legal advocate at his call to the bar cer- emony in Toronto. The years since 1997, when Sahlemariam joined law school at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, have unfolded across two continents, a crowded refugee camp in Kenya, and some time spent in hiding. A bright student with plans to be- come a lawyer, Sahlemariam says he had no intention of leaving his country when, in 2000, he became president of his university's student union. The union was "weak" when he joined it, he says, and it didn't have the support of students who sus- pected there was heavy inf luence by university officials and the Ethiopian government. "The unions are inf luenced by the government. You have to support the government to survive or at least you cannot oppose the government. You can't do anything that annoys the government," he says. So when Sahlemariam and his peers started to advocate for academic freedom and freedom of expression through a campus newspaper, the au- thorities began to look askance. The university soon banned the newspaper for inciting illegal protests. The move sparked outrage among students. A meeting with the Ethio- pian Human Rights Council added courage to the students' fury, says Sahlemariam, and that's when the protests, which started at the univer- sity, spread through local high schools and universities in other parts of the country. "Students protested the lack of aca- demic freedom, the presence of police in university, the corruption of the administration, the incompetence of the administration, and the lack of freedom of expression," he says. "No assembly, no gatherings are al- lowed." But the police responded brutally, he says, as they killed 41 students in one day. They also arrested thousands of students. "I had to escape one Tuesday night. The whole city was in chaos," says ALS CHALLENGE Colleagues remembered as firms join in P3 OBESITY PROTECTION Time to make human rights rules explicit? P7 FOCUS ON Human Rights Law P8 See Paralegals, page 4 See New, page 4 'This is likely a fact of a constrained budget that legal aid is dealing with because this can't be the best option,' says Adam Weisberg. PM #40762529 ALS CHALLENGE Colleagues remembered as firms join in & $#&!&jmmm$cYa[bbWh$Yec ntitled-4 1 12-03-20 10:44 AM $4.00 • Vol. 25, No. 28 September 8, 2014 Follow LAW TIMES on L aw TIMes L aw TIMes T I Teklemichael Sahlemariam hopes to specialize in international criminal law. Photo: Robin Kuniski

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