Law Times

February 22, 2010

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Follow McKELLAR STRUCTURED SETTLEMENTS Billions of dollars invested, not a penny lost. 1-800-265-8381 $3.55 • Vol. 21, No. 6 cKellar_LT_Jan18_09 1 1/11/10 1:02:38 PM Disbarred lawyer challenges LSUC Harry Kopyto battles law society over paralegal regulation BY TIM SHUFELT Law Times diction to regulate paralegals, a fi ght he intends to take all the way to Ottawa if necessary. Harry Kopyto, a legal provocateur who A has acted as a paralegal since the law society disbarred him 20 years ago, now fi nds him- self having to prove his good character to the regulator in order to save his practice. "I'm afraid," he says. "I feel extremely vulnerable. I have powerful forces arranged against me. As much as I am on a mission, I have a sense that they are on a mission as well." His mission, however, goes well beyond redeeming himself against a litany of law so- ciety allegations. Kopyto says that in assuming the regula- tion of the paralegal profession, the LSUC has violated federal competition rules, as- sumed a restrictive monopoly over legal services in Ontario, and eff ectively reduced access to justice. "It's an honour to challenge this horrible, unlawful, and abysmal takeover of parale- gals," he maintains. Th e provincial government vested the law society with the responsibility to govern paralegals over concerns that the public was exposed to the risk of harm at the hands of unscrupulous or incompetent practitioners. "We heard lots of diff erent horror stories," says Steven Rosenhek, chairman of the Ontario well-known legal activist is using his good character hearing to challenge the Law Society of Upper Canada's juris- Th e new regime implemented certain restrictions on the areas of practice open to paralegals. Th ey would no longer be able to give ad- vice or fi ll out paperwork for simple estate, wills or incorporation matters and, most controversially, would be prohibited from family courts. "Th e only thing it's accomplished so far is it's restricted our capability to practise," says Judi Simms, president of the Paralegal Society of Canada. "Why is it that we can't perform a task that a legal secretary could perform?" Simms says that for decades, paralegals fi lled a void in the system by ably perform- ing many straightforward legal tasks. "Th ere were some paralegals who blew it, but, hey, there's a lot of lawyers that blew it, too," she says. For many paralegals, particularly those who had established practices in small claims, landlord and tenant law, and traffi c matters, regulation has legitimized their functions and advanced them professionally. Simms, in fact, praises the LSUC for its 'They bit off more than they can chew and they're going to choke on it," says Harry Kopyto. Bar Association's paralegal task force, adding that complaints against paralegals "came up fairly frequently and sometimes with disas- trous results." Th e prevailing lack of any regulatory struc- ture meant paralegals were free to operate without any disciplinary mechanism or mini- mum standards of education. "spectacular job" in bringing paralegals into the fold. Since the law society began issuing licenc- es in May 2008, more than 2,000 paralegals have received authorization to practise. However, Simms says at least an equal number have fallen by the wayside. "Some have had to stop practising, and others have had a hard time making a living," she says. Workplaces must adapt, lawyers say T BY TIM SHUFELT Law Times he traditional relation- ship between unions and employers is changing rapidly, and Canadian workplac- es are going to have to adapt or perish, according to labour and employment lawyers. For both the private and pub- Harvey Beresford predicts the public sector will be particu- larly prone to conflict and crisis as governments face increasing cost pressures. lic sectors, the global economic downturn has made collective "power bargaining" somewhat obsolete, and unions and employ- ers need to co-operate to preserve companies, according to Harvey Beresford, a labour and employ- ment lawyer with Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP. "Th e future is a hard future be- cause in most cases it will require both management and labour to change from the pathway they've been on," he said. "Th e sense of entitlement we've all operated on for a period of time is under a lot of examina- tion and a lot of change." Beresford was speaking at the Ontario Bar Association Institute conference in Toronto last week. Th e recession and the shortage of capital have forced many Cana- dian sectors to look elsewhere for an infusion of resources. As a result, global competition is fundamen- tally changing the employment re- lationship, panellists said. Beresford cited Stelco Inc., Inco Ltd., and Algoma Steel Inc. as examples of Canadian giants now surviving by having raised external capital. See Kopyto, page 3 National Classes 7 Familiar Agenda 9 Focus On International/ Cross-Border Law Quote of the week "Many law fi rms are so focused on profi t that they may be unable to appreci- ate the value of apparently 'competing' priorities like shorter hours, fl exible work schedules or pro bono legal work." — Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Charron See Priority, page 5 Inside This Issue 4 Covering Ontario's Legal Scene on February 22, 2010 At the same time, union membership is declining, and new certifi cations in the private sector are few, he added. Applying traditional collective- bargaining approaches to smaller organizations or units owned by larger global companies will re- sult in more plant closures and centralization, he explained. In the public sector, Beresford predicted even more confl ict and crisis. "You have tremendous economic pressure being placed on municipal corporations with- out a very easy ability to raise additional funds." As well, he said clinging to the old methods would only make it more diffi cult to sustain the basic union model. See Litigation, page 3 WHICH DIRECTION IS BEST FOR YOU? RainMaker Group 110 Yonge Street, Suite 1101 Toronto, Ontario M5C 1T4 Untitled-7 1 Tel: 416-863-9543 Fax: 416-863-9757 5/29/08 1:05:49 PM

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