Law Times

December 6, 2010

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TF: 1.888.781.9083 December 6 , 2010 ocdavit_LT_June7_10.indd 1 Outcry over consultants Bill gives paralegals exemption from federal regulation BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times gration consultants, a move one lawyer prac- tising in the area calls a "scandal." Bill C-35, the cracking down on crooked T consultants act that's currently winding its way through Parliament, is the federal government's response to a string of controversies involving unqualifi ed and unethical consultants who ex- ploited prospective immigrants to the country. Th e bill tightens up the rules on who can charge fees for immigration advice. In the mean- time, hearings are underway to fi nd a govern- ing body to regulate consultants and thereby replace the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants. While lawyers in all provinces and territories are exempt from the requirements, an amendment adopted at the committee stage of the bill earlier this month adds paralegals be- longing to the LSUC to that list. Sergio Karas, a past chairman of the Ontar- io Bar Association's citizenship and immigra- tion section, sees the whole bill as an erosion of lawyers' territory but fi nds the law society's move on paralegals particularly galling. "I think it's a scandal because it is invad- ing areas that are traditionally the province of lawyers," he tells Law Times. "Th e law so- ciety is undermining the role of lawyers." According to Karas, only lawyers should be able to advise and represent applicants in pro- ceedings under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. "It's very complicated. You need to know a lot of case law and what the he Law Society of Upper Canada has successfully lobbied MPs to exempt paralegals from regulation as immi- 6/4/10 9:22:44 AM 'I think it's a scandal because it is invading areas that are traditionally the province of law- yers,' says Sergio Karas. jurisprudence is. Immigration consultants are not equipped to do that and nor are paralegals." At the same time, with 300 active members of the immigration law bar in Ontario alone, Karas says consumers have enough options. "It's not like there is a shortage of lawyers. You shouldn't be hard-pressed to fi nd representation." After the government announced the legislation in June, the Paralegal Society of Ontario wrote to the federal government to request an exemption given the LSUC's reg- ulation of paralegals. "We provide a valuable choice for the public and are recognized as a valuable provider of legal services," wrote paralegal society president Chris Surowiak. "Individuals wanting to immigrate to Can- ada can be assured they will have a qualifi ed representative when they retain the services of a paralegal member of the law society." Last month, the law society backed him up, sending Treasurer Laurie Pawlitza to make the pitch for paralegals at the standing committee on citizenship and immigration. She pointed to See CSIC, page 5 the Law Society of Upper Cana- da over claims it discriminated against her on the basis of her age by complaining about her behaviour in a family law matter. Th e complaints against Elaine McCallum include concerns about her personal ap- pearance, something she blames on a medical condition. For her part, McCallum alleges the LSUC gave more credence to the account of a younger lawyer she had launched her own com- plaint against. "As far as I'm concerned, this Lawyers' age dispute sparks LSUC probe A BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times n Oshawa, Ont., lawyer is planning to launch a human rights case against is just prejudice against me be- cause I'm an older woman. I say she made derogatory remarks about my age. She says I made derogatory remarks about her age, and they just believe her without asking for any proof and start their own complaint." Th e law society initiated the McCallum says she told the law society's investigator she suf- fers from rosacea, a condition that appears most commonly in older women and causes redness of the skin and watery eyes. Th e LSUC has persisted in the case, insisting in a letter dated Nov. 8 that she answer the allegations I just wanted an acknowledgment that it's wrong to threaten me in that way. It's got completely out of control. TitlePlus_LT_Jan12_09 12/23/08 11:07 AM Page 1 investigation against her based on the younger lawyer's response to McCallum's complaint. At one point in the LSUC's letter to McCallum, it asks her to re- spond to an allegation that her face was "red, your eyes were bulging, and spittle was coming from your mouth." that she behaved dishonourably by making discriminatory com- ments and failing to be courte- ous and civil towards another lawyer and her client. "I think it's outrageous that I should have to respond to that," McCallum says. 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I feel like I'm being attacked based on my personal appearance." In the end, she asked her son to write a reference in which he said he had seen McCallum "in all moods and conditions" but has "yet to see her with eyes bulging and spittle coming from her mouth." In an e-mailed state- ment, law society spokes- woman Susan Tonkin said the LSUC doesn't comment on complaints or investigations "unless and until a matter has resulted in formal discipline pro- ceedings." McCallum, 58, who was called to the bar in 1977, says she has often felt hostility from younger See It's, page 5 LT Digital version.indd 1 6/25/10 12:59:47 PM Click here to subscribe today to LAW TIMES

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