Law Times

December 1, 2014

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New task force to review paralegal education By yamri Taddese Law Times he Toronto Lawyers Association is putting together a task force to review paralegal edu- cational curriculum in Ontario amid concerns about incompe- tent graduates. "There is, in our opinion at this stage, insufficient curricu- lum available to equip paralegals with the necessary tools to prop- erly represent somebody facing a criminal charge," says association president Joseph Neuberger. The association says the review is in response to members who have complained about taking over files previously handled by paralegals — who in some cases charged the same fees as lawyers or higher — and observing defi- cient work done on the file. "The other issue that we're hearing, also in Small Claims Court and in criminal trials, is that sometimes, preparing for the hearing is fine but when it comes to the ability to examine, cross- examine, and make legal submis- sions, there are difficulties with those areas," says Neuberger. There's an inconsistent level of performance among paralegals, according to Neuberger. The con- cern about quality representation has grown in light of discussions about an expanded scope of para- legal practice, he notes. "There's been a lot of discu ssion about access to justice and what I am trying to get across is that access to justice does not simply mean representation. What it means is access to competent, good-quality representation. That means whoever is representing you must have the necessary tools and training to be able to provide competent service." The task force would look at current practices at paralegal schools to see "what is truly there to equip graduating paralegals with the necessary tools to provide solid, quality representation to their clients, particularly in crimi- nal law," adds Neuberger. Two years ago, according to Neuberger, a Law Society of Upper A DAILY BLOG OF CANADIAN LEGAL NEWS FEEDS LEGAL POWERED BY CANADIANLAWYERMAG.COM/LEGALFEEDS FEEDS LEGAL POWERED BY LegalFeeds_LT_Dec1_14.indd 1 2014-11-26 9:44 AM Judicial vacancies pile up Lawyers concerned about delays as 29 Superior Court posts left unfilled By yamri Taddese Law Times espite Superior Court Chief Justice Heather Smith's call for prompt judicial appoint- ments, Ontario is approaching the end of the year with nearly 30 vacancies for federally appointed judges across the province and no new appointments since April. The impact of these vacancies is playing out across the province, says Cheryl Siran, chairwoman of the County & District Law Presidents' Association. "There simply aren't enough Superior Court judges to deal with the volume that's going through our system," she says, adding the problem has created "a ripple effect" for both the justice system and the way lawyers do their jobs. "It's more than just about accessing a judge. It has im- pacts that then move down to the practices of lawyers, their businesses in rural and remote communities, and the people that they service," she says. "If you can't get dates in your region for your matter except months and months down the road, it has a ripple effect that goes through the whole of the justice system and for people who are both in it and using it." At the opening of the courts ceremony in September, Smith sounded the alarm about the problem. "In the past, the federal minister of justice filled these vacancies in a timely manner. Regrettably, this year is quite different," she said. The last new appointment to the Superior Court was in April, although the government has promoted a judge to the role of regional senior justice since then and made Ontario Chief Justice George Strathy's appointment official in June. LEGAL DILEMMA Should regulators report members to police? P7 FOCUS ON E-Discovery P9 Bruce Hillyer suspects judicial vacancies are contributing to longer wait times for judicial pretrials. Photo: Robin Kuniski See New, page 2 See Court, page 2 'There's been a lot of discussion about access to justice and what I am trying to get across is that access to justice does not simply mean representation,' says Joseph Neuberger. PM #40762529 TORONTO | BARRIE | HAMILTON | KITCHENER 1-866-685-3311 | cLeish Orlando_LT_Jan_20_14.indd 1 14-01-15 3:15 PM $4.00 • Vol. 25, No. 39 December 1, 2014 e: Litigation Support Our Document Management Services include: Scanning • Indexing • OCR (Optical Character Recognition) • Electronic Document Capture and More - Call Us, We Can Help! ntitled-1 1 2014-09-26 9:29 AM l aw TIMEs Judicial vacancies pile up l aw TIMEs D T CHANGE AT THE TOP New managing partner to lead Norton Rose P5

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