June 14, 2024

Saluti Law Medi

Rule it with System

More options coming for people needing legal help

Nancy Merrill, KC, lawyer, mediator and family arbitrator, Merrill, Long & Co; past president, The Law Society –

“For years, I have seen people struggle to find services and support in our legal system. So, I particularly welcome the new legislation’s focus on access to justice, which is critical in upholding the rule of law. I am confident this will give us the tools to better protect the public. It represents significant and welcome reform that will benefit the public by improving the efficiency and transparency of the regulation of the legal profession.”

Robert Lapper, KC, chair, faculty of law, University of Victoria –

“The cost of legal services and the complexity of our justice system have put justice behind a paywall. Almost daily, I hear from and about people who face serious legal problems but can’t afford a lawyer. The proposed Legal Professions Act will promote much-needed expansion in the range of service providers, who can help with legal problems and innovations in the way legal services are delivered, to make justice in B.C. more accessible.”

Jamie Maclaren, KC, executive director, Access Pro Bono Society of BC; life bencher, the Law Society of BC –

“I’m confident these changes will enhance the diversity, number and affordability of legal services made available every day to people throughout British Columbia and will strengthen each legal profession’s accountability to the public interest in access to justice, while preserving their integrity and independence.”

Dom Bautista, executive director, AC Friends of Court –

“As a service provider that has relied on paralegals to help British Columbians, the proposed changes of the Legal Professions Act are a welcome development. The changes reflect the government’s strong desire to act in the public’s interest, something which the current regulator has failed to do. I am confident that the independence of the bar and its diversity will be protected. While no legislation is perfect, we expect the benefits will bear fruit in the years to come.”

Joel V. Payne, lawyer –

“The Legal Professions Act provides an opportunity for lawyers, paralegals and notaries to work together to ensure the people we serve can find and afford the right kind of help with their legal problems. The legislation preserves the independence of lawyers and goes further by requiring that elected and independently appointed lawyers hold a majority on the board. It also imposes a legal duty on all directors to ensure the independence of all licensees.”

Ron Usher, general counsel, The Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia –

“The Legal Professions Act builds on the 150-year-old foundation of B.C.’s unique model of legal service provision through lawyers and common law notaries public. The legislation brings much-needed updates and consolidation to the current system of regulation in the public interest. It maintains the independence of lawyers, appropriately expands the range of legal services provided by notaries, and provides for new legal service professionals, who will further the important task of meeting unmet and underserved needs for legal services.”

Elizabeth Kollias, president, and Rosina Jagore, vice-president, BC Paralegal Association (BCPA)

“Regulated paralegals will assist people throughout British Columbia who are barred from accessing traditional legal services. Paralegals in B.C., represented by the BCPA, have crucial and necessary legal expertise and handle matters across all practice areas, but remain widely unrecognized in the legal profession. The BCPA is looking forward to consulting with the new working group to establish a scope of practice for regulated paralegals, which is key to providing accessible, independent legal services in the public’s best interest.”

John Mayr, executive director, The Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia –

“I support this initiative to create a new legal regulator because many people can’t afford to access the justice system. Almost daily, I hear heart-wrenching stories from individuals and families who can’t afford the cost of having to choose between groceries or justice, or who live in rural communities that don’t have a lawyer. This legislation means that paralegals will join with notaries and lawyers in being able to give legal advice and this will increase access to justice for many.”

Chad Rintoul, chief executive officer, The BC Notaries Association –

“The British Columbia Notaries Association is pleased to see expanded scope of practice for notaries included in the new legislation. This enables notaries to improve access to legal services and we are optimistic that a single regulator will result in clarity for the public. As a parent, I am particularly pleased that the legislation will enable notaries who prepare wills to assist with the probate process during what can be a challenging time for people experiencing grief.”