There’s an ever-more vocal and populous movement taking shape: that of the demand for true access to justice. The pitch for these demands has increased, exponentially, over the course of the last decade. The other two pillars of access in our society – access to healthcare and access to education – are now no longer drowning out the voices of the former, given the sheer extent of the problems that we’re learning about with respect to the consequences of inadequate justice.
So, with respect to the Divisional Court situation, that is certainly something that I think a lot of people want to see changed – and I predict it won't be long before it is changed, whether in earnest or de facto.
Among the many challenges that the Law Society's monopolization of legal advice and legal services has brought about for it, is that of a full frontal attack by a former lawyer who is now vigorously challenging it on this. I have no opinion on the merits of the specific challenges being made, as I have not seen or read the pleadings on it. http://harrykopyto.ca/
As well, there's been a lot of overall controversy about the assumption of paralegal regulation by the LSUC. The federal competition watchdog is fielding a considerable volume of complaint about this. And despite the many arguments that are being advanced for regulation of paralegals, I haven't yet been privy to any one argument that soundly rebuts the fact that it seems odd (some say, perverse), from a purely logical perspective, that an established competitor ought to fall to regulation by its competition.
On the international level, the OECD has expressed significant concern with over-regulation in Canada. Such powerful international organizations hold tremendous, albeit indirect, sway over Canada’s bond ratings (and hence, how much money we have left over for social programs after servicing our bond-rated debt). One notch of a downgrade can translate into billions in additional interest costs. With the stroke of a pen by Moody’s, the available money for a country’s entire social safety net can evaporate. A severe case where this has already happened (although, with more than one downgrade): Greece. If there is one thing that can be said with greater confidence than the certainty of death and taxes, it is that any government hoping to stay in power DOES NOT want this to occur.
Currently, given that governments have to be increasingly careful about allocating scarce judicial resources, appellate courts continue on their slow, lilting march towards e-hearings and strictly written argument (as is already the norm in many appellate courts in the U.S.), in lieu, altogether, of oral argument. The consequence: the final arbiter of who represents clients seems likely to fall to the forces of technology.
Thus, if the legal challenges, the Competition Tribunal, and pressures from the OECD et al. closely watching Canada from a competitive perspective do not soon formally kill off the legal service and legal advice monopoly, it'll simply get done de facto.
Global legal service and advice outsourcing to jurisdictions who don't answer to the LSUC (presently and most notably, India – but soon China given it is destined to become the largest English-speaking country in several years), will mean that the electronic conduit we know of as the Internet will be getting used to pipe in far more affordable legal services, and deliver advice, for e-hearings, and to prepare the written briefs. Those forces are already moving the clock to the witching hour at breakneck speed.
Once the legal service and legal advice market opens up in this way, it will hardly be of any use to try to restrict what domestic paralegals do. Domestic paralegals will, I believe, find that niche services will be embraced in many areas for which value can be provided to the end-user in the interests of improved access to justice.
Everyone wins when this happens.
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