The Law Society’s Access to Justice (A2J) Committee has launched a Call for Comment on a proposed new type of licensee (in addition to the current lawyer and current paralegal licensees) called a Family Legal Services Provider or FLSP.
This new proposed category of licensee comes from the Family Law Action Plan implemented by the Law Society to “improve access to justice for Ontario families”.
The Plan was the Law Society’s contribution to a joint action plan with the Province of Ontario, as a result of a 2016 report by Justice Bonkalo which reviewed whether the family justice system could be improved by expanding the delivery of legal services to providers other than lawyers.
According to the Law Society, the most acute legal need for Ontarians is representation in family court, where approximately 60% of the parties are self-represented.
The proposed FLSP would be a licensed paralegal trained specifically to obtain the FLSP license. No recommendation has been put forward for another legal service provider to take on this role, such as a law clerk. The training would include 6-8 months on a full-time basis or one year on a part time basis. The Law Society has also issued a Request for Information to gather information from accredited colleges and universities for the delivery of an educational training program to support the proposed FLSP licence.
The details of the proposed new licensee can be found in the Access to Justice Committee: Family Legal Services Provider Licence Consultation Paper.
In general, the proposed FLSP will be authorized to offer the following services:
The FLSP will be authorized to offer these services in the following areas of family law (with any exclusions or limitation to be set out in an applicable by-law):
The FLSP would NOT be able to engage in several out of scope activities, including:
The Call for Comment is “an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the legal community and the public on the most effective approach to improving access to family law services.” The Law Society has set out a list of consultation questions and is looking for comments and input to be submitted by November 30, 2020.
The questions and information on how to submit your comments can be found here.
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