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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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Old 06-23-2015, 01:13 AM
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Default Representation by non-lawyer

Hey everyone I was wondering if anyone knew how you go about appointing a non-lawyer to represent you. I know Rule 4 says that a party may be represented by a non-lawyer but only if the court gives permission in advance. But how do you get permission? My fiancÚ has a cousin who is a paralegal (yes we know paralegals cannot officially represent in family court) and although she practices a different area of law, she will keep her cool and not let the ex rile her up like my SO would if he tried to speak for himself. But I cannot seem to find any specific direction on how to do this if she agrees? Can we include the request in our response?

Thanks!
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:05 AM
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I personally think this is a very bad idea.
My ex retained services of paralegal and it was a gong-show. This individual used to be a clerk at the court-house and you would think that she would know the correct process. Not.

I'm not surprised that a para-legal feels they are just as competent as a lawyer. If she's so wonderful then why not go to law school? BTW - she doesn't "practice" law. Either way you look at it she is a law clerk, a minion, who works for a lawyer.

Mistakes made by these non-professionals can be very, very costly to you in the end. If you feel you have to use a para-legal then I'd strongly recommend you use one merely for preparation of some documents/affidavits and then have a lawyer review.

I am wary of people who have grandiose, inflated opinions of themselves.
Why would you even contemplate someone who doesn't work within family law? That's akin to going to a podiatrist for respiratory problems.
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:17 AM
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I am a paralegal/law clerk. While I don't believe the term minion accurately reflects my position as a billing member of my firm, I personally would not use a paralegal to represent me.

There are a number of factors of why I wouldn't, one being that professional courtesy wouldn't be extended, the other being that not getting riled up in court is a very small portion of the job. The pleadings, motions etc. that need to be prepared is the much larger part of the job. If the paralegal regularly does real estate or corporate law, I doubt they would be well versed in what is needed to include in a family law matter.

If your significant other can't keep his cool while in court, than he needs to work on that.
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:34 AM
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I'm sure you are a valued member of your firm HammerDad and I certainly did not mean to offend.

My ex used a "paralegal" for the paperwork at one time. His documents were riddled with errors right down to filing errors. He also lost in court each and every time.

Something that the poster might also consider is simply that the judge is, indeed, a lawyer. The judge went through law school and "practiced" law for many years. By having someone who is not a practicing lawyer represent oneself in a family court proceeding is sending the wrong message to the judge.

My ex took me to court over 12 times and many of those times he was a fumbling idiot. However, each and every time the presiding justice bent over backwards to assist him.

I agree with HammerDad that someone who works in conveyancing would most definitely be out of their league in family law.
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Old 06-23-2015, 11:06 AM
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Agree with all of the other posters. If you need representation, do it right or it will come at a huge cost (not even talking financially).

This is akin to asking a physiotherapist to perform breast augmentation surgery. They work in a related field, but you won't get the outcome you expect.
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:55 PM
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She didn't go to law school because she couldn't afford to go - making an assumption that she wasn't good enough to go or that she has a grandiose opinion of herself from a simple procedural question is a huge leap.

Thanks for the input everyone we did not take in to consideration that judges would be more forgiving of minor errors or small missteps for self represented people so I think he's decided to just go ahead and do it himself.
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Old 06-23-2015, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blendedinsanity View Post
She didn't go to law school because she couldn't afford to go - making an assumption that she wasn't good enough to go or that she has a grandiose opinion of herself from a simple procedural question is a huge leap.
If someone made that assumption, that would be a poor assumption. Not knowing the cousins education background, if the cousin had a degree, than she would be able to go to law school. All one needs a paper degree to go to law school, trust me....I've seen those types over my years.

To become a paralegal or law clerk, well, I'll be honest and say it isn't that hard. You can get your certificate from the Institute of Law Clerks of Ontario by doing each of their 4 six week courses. I believe there are those Trios Colleges and other small education centres that offer the course as well. They are like a 3-4 month course or whatever. Personally, I wouldn't hire someone with no experience who only took those courses. My course was 3 years taught by mainly lawyers and a few paralegals.

But ultimately, I wouldn't do it if I were you. I have ZERO court experience, as I do corporate/tax law. I have no experience with the rules of civil procedure either. I would be lost. If the cousin is a litigation law clerk, that may assist them, but it family law is a beast of its own as we know.

I know that if someone asked me to represent them them, I would say no. I simply don't have the expertise that the person I am supposedly assisting probably thinks I have (or should have).
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Old 06-23-2015, 04:40 PM
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Another point is professional insurance. If your lawyer commits a fault you can sue them (it actually works). Probably the best thing about lawyers is that you can sue them for their incompetence and win I know people who it worked for.

Also regarding keeping cool, it will be fun for your significant other to be unable to testify while keeping cool.
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Old 06-23-2015, 10:34 PM
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Hammer Dad - his cousin is under the old procedure or requirements for becoming a Paralegal whatever they are but I do know they recently re-did the entire program, etc. and made it harder to accomplish. My niece was just accepted into the new program at Seneca. They are licensed through the Law Society (at least in Ontario) and whatever the new requirements are (I'm not sure what the old ones were to compare) they come in to effect as of September 2015. I do find it interesting that family law is excluded from the program. I'm guessing it is because it is way too complex to squeeze into one semester.

Both parties are going to be unrepresented so this could be a painful process all around.
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Old 06-24-2015, 09:07 AM
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I do find it interesting that family law is excluded from the program. I'm guessing it is because it is way too complex to squeeze into one semester.
Family law is excluded from the paralegal program because there is no market for it. Likely because paralegals can't represent people in family court.

There are family law clerks, but they work with lawyers and are covered by the lawyers insurance.

I came up under the old regime as well. I did a 3 year college program. I am also not licensed by the LSUC simply because I haven't bothered get it. I have no need as I work with lawyers and am covered under their insurance. There is no need to incur the expense of licensing and insurance when I don't need it.
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