Changes to Paralegal Rules – It’s About Time!

In most law firms, mine included, a good paralegal can get by for a few days without a lawyer in the office but a good lawyer can’t get by for an hour without a good paralegal.

Paralegal rule changes help to reduce legal fees

paralegal at desk working in a law officeRecent changes to the Law Society of BC’s Rules allow paralegals to perform in areas previously restricted to lawyers. These changes recognize just how important paralegals are. The Rules changes will also increase the public’s access to legal services by reducing client fees.

Before these rule changes, paralegals were not permitted to give legal advice. This was in spite of the fact that the paralegal may have had much more familiarity with the file having prepared documents for review by the lawyer, having done the background research for the documents, and having had more contact with the client. With these Rules changes, paralegals can give legal advice. This advice may take the form of preparing a document, giving an opinion to the client, or giving oral advice during a meeting with a client.

A Paralegal can now work in Family Law

In addition to now being permitted to give legal advice, a paralegal may perform a number of tasks within the area of Family Law. They may appear in Court on uncontested renewals of notices of family claim, uncontested applications for alternative methods of service, uncontested applications for leave to amend pleadings, uncontested applications to compel production of documents for inspection and copying, and applications in which notice is not required.

The role of the lawyer in this new world is to provide appropriate supervision. The lawyer must also ensure that her or his paralegal has the skill set to undertake the tasks in question.

With these new Rules, clients will obtain more cost-effective legal services without sacrifice of quality.