A paralegal proposing a controversial motion at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s annual general meeting earlier this month says he was erring on the side of caution when he withdrew the idea just before the vote.
“A number of people were concerned that if this motion was brought forward and was defeated, the paralegal standing committee in the law society would have difficulty getting these items on the agenda in the foreseeable future,” says Marshall Yarmus, adding he believes defeat was inevitable given the ratio of lawyers to paralegals eligible to vote on the motion.
There are 40,000 licensed lawyers in Ontario compared to a few thousand paralegals.
“Defeat could hurt all the paralegals we’re trying to help, so I decided to err on the side of caution,” Yarmus adds.
The motion called on the law society to look into extending paralegal practice into family law matters. It was due to go to a vote at the law society event on May 5, but Yarmus says he changed course after consulting with colleagues at the Paralegal Society of Ontario’s own annual general meeting that week.
A legislated review of the 2006 Access to Justice Act, which brought paralegals under the regulatory authority of the law society, is due to take place in 2012, but Yarmus says members of the paralegal standing committee have assured him they will tackle the scope of paralegal practice before that date.
For more on this issue, see “Paralegals call truce over law society motion.”