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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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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 05-24-2017, 06:19 PM
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Why can't paralegals do this?
Our society tends to measure what people can do by their education. A lawyer takes 7+ years of university, plus articles. A paralegal has one year of schooling, coupled with either some life experience or an earlier college diploma.
Citation: Paralegal Graduate Certificate

Are there paralegals that could, with the right mentoring, practice family law? Certainly. But they are not presumed to be able to do so.

The argument "but some non-professionals could do this therefore open up the field" has been made to break the monopoly every profession has over its work. The reason the practice of law is restricted to lawyers is they have been vetted (by virtue of attending school, taking bar exams, and being mentored) and, if that has failed, they are insured. Just as are doctors, pharmacists, dentists, et cetera.

High costs of training are one of the reasons that professionals earn a higher income; if someone has forgone 5+ years of their working life, instead paying to be educated, then they expect their career to pay them accordingly. If the market cannot sustain this, there are two options:
1 - train fewer people, which protects the monopoly at the expense of making it less accessible; or
2 - qualify more people with less training, which provides access to services at the expense of quality.
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 05-24-2017, 11:46 PM
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I know what you mean. It's sort of like saying we're going to start allowing nurses to perform brain surgeries.

I think nurses could assist with the surgery but should not be the ones performing the actual surgery. Similarly, paralegals could assist but should not be the ones arguing the motions and conducting the trials.
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 05-25-2017, 09:38 AM
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There are lawyers and self-reps. No in between. The closest to "in between" would be to hire a lawyer to act as a "friend of the court", which is basically what I did. I did all the legwork and she helped me speak and paint the picture for the judge in the court room. An analogy? Hmm, just because I played AAA Hockey doesn't mean I can play in the NHL.
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 05-25-2017, 09:38 AM
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What I wanted was a paralegal to help me fill out the forms and navigate the courtroom. Paying a lawyer to fill out forms and answer emails seemed like ridiculous overkill to me.

I get Orleans point. Some cases are difficult, some are not, and it is difficult to tell which is which. For a complicated case it would be a better to have a lawyer. The problem I have is that Orleans is presenting a false dichotomy. The choice is not:

Paralegal vs. Lawyer

the choice is usually

Paralegal vs. self-represent.


So if there is a difficult case, banning the paralegal is not going to suddenly result in a lawyer stepping up to the plate. Rather, the likely result is yet another unrepresented litigant.
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Old 05-25-2017, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by OrleansLawyer View Post
A paralegal has one year of schooling, coupled with either some life experience or an earlier college diploma.
Citation: Paralegal Graduate Certificate
Mine course was 3 years, much of it taught by lawyers. Many of the courses carried over to university. I know, my buddy who was in my course went forward to university for law and is now a partner a major criminal defence law firm.

As a paralegal/law clerk, I don't know if I would considering hiring a junior who didn't at least take the 2 year course. I've known a few that have simply taken 4 courses and considered themselves clerks because they had a certificate. Let's just say they lacked the basics I would expect from someone who has taken a more involved course (caveat, that is a small sample size as I am sure there are many that have succeeded and thrived).

Edit - IMO, if you allow clerks into the field, it should generally be for completion of forms and procedural matters (ie. advising of notice requirements, getting documents filed and served etc). I find most people struggle with the forms and the basics of notice and service. Giving them a helping hand in that regard wouldn't hurt.
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Old 05-25-2017, 10:52 AM
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Having a paralegal to "help" would be better than having self reps muddle through and make procedural mistakes.

Think about how much time is wasted by self reps who dont have the paperwork together or have filled/filed things incorrectly and have motion dates that get wasted as a result.

To me its not different than someone booking an appointment and then not showing up so everyone else waiting cant get their things done. If a paralegal could give paperwork advice and make sure a self reps file is complete, that would save a ton of time and the court date could proceed accordingly.
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by HammerDad View Post
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.
Based on my experience, I couldn't agree with this more. The present system is simply pain city.
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by OrleansLawyer View Post
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.
My case was relatively simply and I had one case conference and one settlement conference. I ended up self-repping and consulting with a lawyer to understand what was required to prepare for the conferences. It cost my only $3,000. My ex has a lawyer so probably paid 3x what I did. The whole process took about 8 months.

For the time and money involved it was a scam, IMHO. It could have been dealt with by some sort of alternative dispute mechanism in a few hours, plus financial disclosure.

If either of us were not happy with the result, we should have the right to go to court but that should be the 2nd step, not the first.
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 05-25-2017, 11:42 AM
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There needs to be "levels" of legal services when it comes to paralegals. A "one size fits all" does not work.

Let's take nursing as an example:

Types of Nurses:

Nurse
Registered Nurse
Registered Practical Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse
Registered Psychiatric Nurse
Mental Health Nurse
Nurse Practitioner

Types of Training or Specialities

Cardiovascular Nursing
Community Health Nursing
Critical Care Nursing
Critical Care Pediatric Nursing
Diabetes Nursing
... (There are 22 specialties.)

Then there are multiple licensing bodies for Nurses.

So, rather than saying the existing model won't work out-of-the-box. Like a grumpy 1980s doctor and all, they are useful for is changing bedpans... How about we all consider what changes need to be made to the "paralegal" profession. I think the best comparison is to the medical profession.

Change is about change. It isn't about trying to apply the current pattern of behavior to a new situation. It is about changing to resolve a number of problems.

The challenge with the "rules provides fairness" argument is that complexity does not serve the greater good. It only serves the 1% who either can understand them or have accumulated enough wealth to pay someone to understand them.

The concept of "family" goes far beyond the 1% of the wealth in our society.

Furthermore, the whole concept that lawyers are "experts" in all aspects of family law is another fallacy. If that is the case then why in 100% of the cases with equalization over 500,000 are there always forensic accountants and other experts involved? Because a lawyer has a narrow focus and are not accountants. Nor are they child custody and access evaluators or experts. (Why we have the OCL and Section 30.)

In any complex case, a lawyer is the "legal" expert. They have to call upon others to fill the gaps.

Rules need to change so affidavit wars end. (See video from Czutrin I posted later.) If we have our most senior family law justice saying this... Then it is a problem. It isn't a problem lawyers have seemed to solve as they continue to happen on mass.

If you want to see a change in the system of family law. When a client goes nuts and a negative advocate lawyer supports that conduct... Professional impact. Why should WD carry the costs of a devastating battle supported by legal aid and a lawyer? Do they not have any accountability to the system of law as "officers of the court"?

Will taking today's existing system of paralegals work to resolve issues. Nope. But, maybe if the Law Society studies how other industries (healthcare) has expanded and improved service by enabling other professionals to reduce waste, cost and improve client(patient) outcomes change could happen.

The likelihood of your life being saved by a nurse in an acute care setting is way higher than a doctor. In fact, you will have FAR MORE contact with nurses in any health care situation than a doctor. Shouldn't the legal system be the same?

Good Luck!
Tayken
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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 05-25-2017, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ifonlyihadknown View Post
For the time and money involved it was a scam, IMHO. It could have been dealt with by some sort of alternative dispute mechanism in a few hours, plus financial disclosure.
Want to reduce the case load in a courthouse by a major %? Simply integrate the tax system with the legal system. You file a Form 15 the taxes of both parties for the past 3 years are automatically pulled from Revenue Canada and delivered directly to the courthouse.

No round about disclosure requests nonsense. It serves no one.

Automate automate automate...
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