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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 05-24-2017, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by arabian View Post
Often people have unrealistic expectations when hiring lawyers and simply do not read the retainer agreement they sign (this would be similar to giving a mechanic a blank cheque). .
My last lawyer was awful.. she didn't go over or have me sign any retainer agreement. The only thing she ever mentioned was her hourly rate. Phone calls, emails, etc. all mute. Oh boy did she ever adjourn. I call her adjournment. It's a good nickname for her. Was literally fighting to see my kid over Christmas and New years for last 3 years with no success. Within 2 days of meeting and hiring my new lawyer (who actually gives a crap about me and my child's best interests) went over everything and within 2 weeks we had a motion set down. He won me half of Christmas and right to travel outside of Canada (despite the other parent alleging that I was going to be abducting the child). The allegations by the other parent were of course for artificial reasons to win the motion.

Point being, some lawyers are down right awesome and very fair with bills, and others, they are obtuse monkeys - I won't use the word stupid. They don't return phone calls, check emails, and just adjourn and docket. Further, they pull charges out of their behind and next thing you know you are being charged for things you never agreed to or expected.. 1 year into retainer I'm now all of oh a sudden being charged for lawyer's time to docket and 1.5 year later being charged for parking and other non sense. New lawyer personally takes phone calls, returns them promptly, checks emails regularly, and doesn't even charge for emails - just letters and actual legal work. And even provides his personal cell phone and to make that even more awesome he doesn't charge for calling texting either.. Of course he doesn't do this for everybody and just clients he likes and becomes friends with. He even offers me to use his parking whenever I am close by - let it be for going to court or for being in the area for other things. He's fantastic and it's not always the clients that are the problems. More often than not it's the lawyer who is the problem - let it be a lack of good communication, bias against fathers, bias against shared parenting, or even a desire to adjourn and docket.
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  #12 (permalink)  
Old 05-24-2017, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by OrleansLawyer View Post
This sentiment is why it won't happen.

Are there cases that a somewhat obtuse monkey could handle? Absolutely.
Are there cases that merit counsel with significant experience? Absolutely.

Without a way to distinguish between them paralegals will not be permitted to run family cases.
A quick and easy path to anything is not always the best path. But, there need to be options. The single option of legal counsel is not the only answer.

I suspect that for any change to be effective a significant change to the Rules (CLRA, FLR, et all...) need to happen. The rules as they stand are not "civil" in nature. By that I mean, the vast majority of "civil"ians cannot understand them.

For any Rule to work they need to be understandable by a grade 8 educated human. It has taken me years to understand all the permutations and combinations (differences and gaps) in the Rules.

Justice Czutrin has some wise words in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErF7bYzQmms

More "unrepresented" litigants are coming. In fact, last time I was at the courthouse ever single scheduled matter had two unrepresented litigants in the courthouse. The only counsel around was there on duty.

The reality is that the law needs to serve the general population. Not the 1% of highly educated and trained. Imagine if a phone was as complex as our legal system. Apple stock would suck.

We live in an age of "self-service". A disruptor to the legal system is coming. It is ripe for the picking in my humble opinion for significant automation.

If we can automate major elements of health care with things like CPOE why can't we do the same to our legal system?

What Cuztrin talks to in the video is strikingly similar to CPOE systems now in use in the majority of hospitals. Similar intake automation could be done in the legal system.

Note: The same argument was made by doctors about Nurse Practitioners in the late 70s and early 80s... Now they are a MAJOR component of health care delivery. In fact, they significantly have improved wait time and resolutions to what was once deemed "too complex" for them to handle.

Rather than objecting to something it may be better to investigate how to use the opportunity that Paralegals present to family law.

Good Luck!
Tayken
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  #13 (permalink)  
Old 05-24-2017, 01:24 PM
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There are some very shocking and useless right out for the mighty buck lawyers out there who lose their trials miserably.
Agreed - which is also a problem.

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Whose to say all these self repped people can afford counsel with significant experience? Nobody wants to pay someone for one hour of their time for what they earn in one day.
If you want to reduce costs, the answer is not to let paralegals run family cases. Instead, consider increasing law school enrollment and putting more funding into legal aid (which provides experience for many junior lawyers). If more lawyers practiced family law the cost would decrease based on supply and demand.

Paralegals do not receive the training, or get the mentoring, or have the experience to run family cases significantly above the obtuse monkey tier. Do you have children who live with you and an ex with a consistent T4 income? Getting child support is easy. Does your ex have a business, medical issues or assets? Horse of a different colour.

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What if he utilized a first year non-experienced lawyer which was also a disaster for him?
Generally, junior lawyers work in a firm with other lawyers who provide direct mentoring or supervision for their work. If a lawyer is in their first year of practice and running their own firm, they may be very ambitious - or they are working for the only employer who would hire them.

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Lawyers "practice" law. They are not perfect and they don't know it all.
And Einstein was not perfect, and did not know everything about physics, however not many people would have trouble deciding whether they wanted Einstein or Orleanslawyer to solve their physics problem.

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a VERY high percentage of family law cases don't even make it to a trial.
Cases settle because people are prepared for trial, understand the risks and the range of likely results, and then settle. If you have different expectations in results then you are much less likely to settle. Experience and expertise therefore help bring about settlements.

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I think there is no more difficult issue in family law/court that custody and access.
Agreed.
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old 05-24-2017, 01:34 PM
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for any change to be effective a significant change to the Rules (CLRA, FLR, et all...) need to happen. The rules as they stand are not "civil" in nature. By that I mean, the vast majority of "civil"ians cannot understand them.
The crux of the issue is this:
If the rules are too simple, there is a loss of procedural fairness. The rules are intended to ensure every case is dealt with fairly.
If the rules are too complex, parties waste cost to jump through hoops and are unable to navigate them as self-represented litigants.

The process has been working to simplify over the last few decades. For example, civil matters have the simple procedures and expanded small claims court, and family matters have the FLR and a much shorter discovery process.

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Rather than objecting to something it may be better to investigate how to use the opportunity that Paralegals present to family law.
Paralegals have become the main provider of services for small-dollar cases because they are more cost effective. This is a niche, similar to accountants preparing tax returns (a service that used to be the territory of lawyers).

Family law is distinguished from these by two facts:
1 - There is no maximum value (either to your children, or to a potential equalization or spousal support case)
2 - The system is adversarial, and zero-sum, which encourages higher expenditures by a wrathful or vexatious party (and necessitates a response by the other party)

A risk of throwing paralegals and lawyers into the same ring is that it will create a two-tier system. It was to encourage parity that QC is not awarded in most Canadian provinces, and historical gradations between lawyers have declined (for example, all Canadian lawyers are barristers and solicitors, not one to the exclusion of the other).

An option (and one that some firms utilize), is to use a paralegal-lawyer divide similar to the old solicitor-barrister divide. The paralegal meets with the client and drafts documents under the supervision of the lawyer, and the lawyer handles court appearances. Such a divide should reduce costs without reducing quality of work.
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Old 05-24-2017, 01:36 PM
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If you use the medical analogy, you dont go see a nurse practitioner for brain surgery. Ditto with the band aid for a bullet hole. Things like paralegals used for family law cases could be beneficial to support a litigant who cannot self rep but have a simple case. For a difficult family law case if someone chooses to go with a paralegal then theyre an idiot and get what they deserve.
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Old 05-24-2017, 02:06 PM
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I am a paralegal (Corporate Law Clerk - same qualifications as a paralegal, just I work under a lawyers insurance, not my own - and corporate is another restricted paralegal field), and I wouldn't use a paralegal to represent me in family court. I would either do it myself, or hire a lawyer. The stakes are too high, and if I screw up I have no one to blame but me.

The best way to minimize costs in family law is to mandate alternative dispute resolution first. Create a off-shoot of court where family law cases are streamlined and where the participants must first go through mediation. And the mediators notes be open for use in court if necessary.

Not that I appreciate Orleanslawyers comment about paralegals/monkeys, I do agree that they are not the solution. At least not where children are involved.
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  #17 (permalink)  
Old 05-24-2017, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by OrleansLawyer View Post
And Einstein was not perfect, and did not know everything about physics, however not many people would have trouble deciding whether they wanted Einstein or Orleanslawyer to solve their physics problem.
I see where you are trying to go with that but I hate the one to be say it. I think Einstein would be better with numbers than any lawyer would. It still amazes me the way lawyers impute incomes and how they fail to calculate child support based on gross income; and instead based on monies you don't have. Where's Einstein when you need him.

But paralegals aren't being permitted to handle divorce matters anyways so we'll leave the math problems for lawyers and leave doors open to paralegals for custody and access disputes. Child support is easy. Just need the table and a ruler if you have difficulty following lines and reading T4s.

Experience helps but an inexperienced lawyer is no different than an inexperienced paralegal. If a self represented party can defeat an experienced lawyer not a doubt in my mind that a paralegal could as well

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Originally Posted by WorkingDAD View Post
I think there is no more difficult issue in family law/court that custody and access.
It certainly is not easy and is definitely not rocket science - you don't need to be Einsten to solve the problem.

Last edited by trinton; 05-24-2017 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 05-24-2017, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by HammerDad View Post
I am a paralegal (Corporate Law Clerk - same qualifications as a paralegal, just I work under a lawyers insurance, not my own - and corporate is another restricted paralegal field), and I wouldn't use a paralegal to represent me in family court. I would either do it myself, or hire a lawyer. The stakes are too high, and if I screw up I have no one to blame but me.

A paralegal who represents himself is a fool for a client
.

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Originally Posted by HammerDad View Post
Not that I appreciate Orleanslawyers comment about paralegals/monkeys, I do agree that they are not the solution. At least not where children are involved.
It's nothing more than an stereotyping thing. Lawyers are above humans and judges are above all and are god.

We have case workers without University degrees (humans) working at childrens aid societis ..why cant we have lawyers without law degrees (paralegals) working at family courts?

Last edited by trinton; 05-24-2017 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 05-24-2017, 02:35 PM
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If you use the medical analogy, you dont go see a nurse practitioner for brain surgery. Ditto with the band aid for a bullet hole. Things like paralegals used for family law cases could be beneficial to support a litigant who cannot self rep but have a simple case.
The question becomes, how do you know if you have a simple case? Similar issues can be more or less complicated depending on the facts.

Quote:
Create a off-shoot of court where family law cases are streamlined and where the participants must first go through mediation.
The current system was created to do this. Everyone attends a case conference to ensure disclosure is exchanged in a timely fashion, after which a judge conducts a settlement conference to attempt to settle the case. Only then can they go to trial.

Quote:
I appreciate Orleanslawyers comment about paralegals/monkeys, I do agree that they are not the solution.
For clarity - I do not intend to call paralegals monkeys. Only that some legal work is very simple, while other work is very complicated.

Edit: The original comment was in response to a statement about taking a paralegal course then representing people because it is easy. That is like saying you have seen a simple car repair, so take a mechanic's course and do it for everyone. There is a big difference between a monkey job (for example, pump the tires and fill up with wiper fluid) and a more complicated one (repairs after an accident).

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If a self represented party can defeat an experienced lawyer not a doubt in my mind that a paralegal could as well
It is the facts that drive the case. A great lawyer cannot win a case with losing facts, and a bad lawyer cannot (or should not be able to) lose a case with winning facts.

What a lawyer is supposed to do is present the case competently to allow the judge to make a decision if settlement cannot be reached. If the facts are known, the result should be known in most cases, and therefore two competent lawyers should be able to settle every case with very few exceptions.

Last edited by OrleansLawyer; 05-24-2017 at 02:38 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 05-24-2017, 05:48 PM
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It is the facts that drive the case. A great lawyer cannot win a case with losing facts, and a bad lawyer cannot (or should not be able to) lose a case with winning facts.
Great lawyers do sometimes win cases with losing facts. Those cases end up being appealed.

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Originally Posted by OrleansLawyer View Post
What a lawyer is supposed to do is present the case competently to allow the judge to make a decision if settlement cannot be reached. If the facts are known, the result should be known in most cases, and therefore two competent lawyers should be able to settle every case with very few exceptions.
Why can't paralegals do this? They represent clients in other civil matters? What makes family law so unique? If criminal law judges or lawyers who have never practiced family law get appointed as a family law judge, I simply don't see how paralegals can't be trusted to practice family law. What makes a lawyer so unique ?
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