On January 1, 2020, The Legal Profession Act, 1990, was amended to include a definition of the practice of law and identify what represents the unauthorized practice of law. In support of these amendments, the Law Society also:
In an effort to increase access to justice, the Law Society is seeking alternative (or non-lawyer) service providers not currently identified in legislation or our rules that may be providing valuable legal services without posing a significant risk to the public.
Given several important initiatives underway, the Future of Legal Services Committee is highlighting key information regarding access to justice and the work of the Committee. Here’s the first in a series of future articles about the committee’s work.
Through a notice process, which began in January 2020, the Law Society is seeking to identify groups and individuals that are non-lawyers to participate in consultation and pilots projects that can contribute to:
This process is guided by a series of principles:
Until December 31, 2021, the Law Society is asking existing legal service providers to self-identify by completing a Notice Form.
Self-identifying to the Law Society enables existing low-risk service providers to have the opportunity to receive a letter from the Law Society confirming that they may continue to provide limited legal services in their identified areas of work (subject to appropriate restrictions and conditions). The service providers who receive a letter may provide their services without fear of prosecution or enforcement by the Law Society, while their long-term status is considered in the context of new regulatory structures. To facilitate a smooth transition for service providers who self-identify, the Law Society will maintain the status quo during this initial period of notice and discovery.
Importantly, the Law Society will continue to enforce unauthorized practice provisions against individuals or organizations who pose a clear risk to the public due to a lack of training or experience, an unacceptable risk associated with their activities, identified issues that might affect the rule of law or administration of justice, and/or misleading the public about qualifications or status with the Law Society.
The goal of this new initiative is to enhance access to legal services and we look forward to working with alternative legal service providers, the public, and other legal stakeholders in developing a flexible regulatory structure that strengthens access to justice while minimizing risk for the public.
Learn more about the notice process and view aggregate information regarding Notice Forms received to date.