Stephen H. Parker

Paralegal Bencher Candidate – Ontario Region

Priorities

I have been involved with the Law Society and the development of paralegal regulation in various capacities for the past 18 years. Having worked with the Law Society, I know how they work. I believe I know how they think. That helped in my early committee work. This will be a huge advantage going forward.
Education
I have always felt that the current, Basic Entry Level Competencies fall far short of what should be required. I want to see the curriculum for paralegal studies include much more time spent on subjects such as the rules of evidence, trial/tribunal procedure and the art of examination and cross-examination. I don’t consider the compressed courses currently offered by some colleges provide the competences required.
Licence Exemptions
Since my initial involvement, in 2002, with the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Law Society and continuing with my time on the original Paralegal Standing Committee, I have argued for the elimination of licence exemptions. There are still a few remaining; not the least of which is the exemption for prosecutors. With the pending downloading to municipalities of Provincial Offences Act Part III prosecutions, this provides the ideal opportunity to eliminate this exemption and to require all non-lawyer prosecutors to be licensed as paralegals.
Bill C-75
Bill C-75 has created a huge access to justice issue with the maximum penalty increase of summary convictions going from 6 months to 2 years less a day. I hope to be able to convince the Law Society that the licensing & regulation of paralegals in Ontario is the type of programme envisaged under s. 802.1 of the Criminal Code. And it would be in the public interest for the Law Society to lobby the Attorney General to obtain approval.
Family Law
I will continue to pursue the provision in the Bonkalo Report that paralegals should be able to represent a party before the Ontario court of Justice on family issues, pursuant to the permitted scope of practice.

Background

Prior to defending drivers in 1986, I served as a police officer for 15 years. I have been practicing in the POA courts for over 32 years. After being President of the Institute of Agents at Court and the Professional Paralegal Association of Ontario and negotiating the regulatory framework with the Law Society and the Attorney General’s office, in 2006 I was appointed to the original Paralegal Standing Committee which worked to establish the paralegal competencies, rules of conduct and regulations. I was licensed in March of 2008. I later served on the working group with the Law Society to revise the competencies for the new paralegal licencing exam. I was the first President of the Ontario Paralegal Association between 2014 and 2018, where I was instrumental in the cancelling of the Attorney General’s proposed AMPS for moving violations and I also participated in the Family Legal Services Review. As President of the OPA, I was invited to attend the Law Society Treasurer’s events around the province where I established excellent relationships with the local lawyers and letting them know exactly what paralegals can do, not only for them but with them.

Candidates I support

Something the LSO does that it should stop doing

Allowing paralegal licence exemptions.

Something the LSO doesn't do that it should start doing

More emphasis on public awareness of the paralegal community. Having the practice resource centre provide more concrete information to members that seek answers to practice questions, rather than simply tell everyone, they cannot give legal advice.

website

email

benchercandidateparker@gmail.com

social media

Facebook – Elect Stephen Parker for bencher2019; Twitter @ElectBencher; Linkedin

All Candidates were invited to comment on any or all of the following topics

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Allow paralegals to become Notaries; At the very least maintain the status quo with summary offences but ideally, designate Ontario’s paralegals under s.802.1 of the Criminal Code as permitting representation on all summary offences. Expanding eligible Legal Aid offences to include provincial offences where incarceration is likely.
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Reduce the number of lawyer Benchers but increase paralegal Benchers to better reflect the number of licensees.
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Artificial Intelligence in Legal Service Delivery

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Reconciliation and Indigenous Communities

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Other countries have given up on ABS as unworkable. The LSO should follow.
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Specific Enhancements to Licensing System

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Have the practice resource centre provide more concrete information to members that seek answers to practice questions, rather than simply tell everyone, they cannot give legal advice. If licensees cannot ask their regulator for legal advise on practice issues, what’s the point of them?
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This is becoming an ever increasing concern as mental health is coming out of the shadows. The MAP initiative has been very successful and their intervention perhaps should be mandated by the Tribunal under relevant circumstances. More programmes emphasizing work/life balance could come under CPD.
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Diversity and Inclusivity Priorities

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Scope of practice for paralegals and non-licensees

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Allow paralegals to become Notaries; At the very least maintain the status quo with summary offences but ideally, designate Ontario’s paralegals under s.802.1 of the Criminal Code as permitting representation on all summary offences. Expanding eligible Legal Aid offences to include provincial offences where incarceration is likely.

eliminate practice by non-licensees.

FOLA asks: Thoughts on Funding Staffed Local Law Libraries

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Endorsements for this candidate

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Ben Hogan, Madeline Williams.

Other topics

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