Law Society’s new framework improves career-long competence for lawyers and paralegals and meets Ontario’s legal needs

TORONTO, May 26, 2022 /CNW/ – The Law Society’s Board of Trustees (Convocation) has approved several initiatives that enhance career-long competence for lawyers and paralegals, protect the public and meet the legal needs of Ontarians.

Last year, the Law Society’s Competence Task Force released a consultation report: Renewal of the Law Society Continuing Competence Framework, and invited lawyers, paralegals, legal organizations, members of the public and others to participate in the call for comment. In addition to numerous submissions from the legal profession, 10 focus groups were held – including two with members of the public who had retained the services of a lawyer or paralegal within the past three years.

Today, the Convocation discussed the Working group follow-up report on this and approved a new competency framework.

“The Law Society has a mandate to regulate the competence of lawyers and paralegals,” said Therese DonnellyTreasurer of the Bar of Ontario. “I am proud of the extensive work that the Competency Task Force has done to review the relevance and effectiveness of the Law Society’s existing programs and to determine how best to make changes to ensure licensees serve well. the public. »

The new competency framework includes the creation of a Practice Essentials course that will be mandatory for lawyers or paralegals within one year of first setting up as an independent practitioner. This will take effect from January 2024. The approximately 30-hour online course will prepare new independent practitioners for long-term success by focusing on fundamental practice and business management topics.

“Our consultation and research has demonstrated that the Law Society’s existing programs provide a strong foundation for career-long competence,” said Bencher Sidney Troister, Chair of the Competency Task Force. “The task force identified opportunities for improving technology skills, practice management, and client communications among sole practitioners that current programs do not fully address. practice will prepare new solo practitioners to succeed – ensuring they have the knowledge and resources to function as a sole practitioner – which, in turn, increases public protection.”

Under the new framework, the Rules of ethics and the Professional Conduct Guidelines for Paralegals will be amended to adopt the Model Code of Professional Conduct of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada commentary (Section 3.1-2) regarding technological competence.

The Law Society requires licensees who practice law or provide legal services to complete 12 Continue professional development (CPD) Hours each year. Currently, there is a six-hour limit on archived or recorded CPD programs that are eligible for credit each year. The new framework waives this limitation.

The new framework also provides for the liquidation of the Certified Specialist Program (CSP). Licensees who are currently Certified Specialists may use this designation until December 31, 2022. The Aboriginal Legal Issues specialization will continue subject to any future recommendations made by the Equity and Aboriginal Affairs Committee to Council regarding the specialization.

“As a modern regulator, the Law Society must strive to take a balanced and proportionate approach to ensuring that lawyers and paralegals maintain their professional knowledge, skill and judgment throughout their careers. said Bencher Troister. “The development of the new competency framework allows us to do that, which ultimately protects and serves the public well.”

The Bar regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society’s mandate is to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for Ontario and to act in a timely, open and effective manner.

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SOURCE The Bar of Ontario

For further information: Jennifer Wing, Senior Communications Advisor, External Relations and Communications, [email protected]