The Advisory: Volume 10, Issue 1, January 2012

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Alternate Delivery of Legal Services Comittee Preparing Final Recommendations

By Douglas R. Mah, QC, President, and Chair, Alternate Delivery of Legal Services Committee, Law Society of Alberta

In 2009, the Law Society was asked by the then Minister of Justice, Alison Redford, QC to explore alternate delivery of legal services to further the goal of enhancing access to justice for Albertans.

Nearly three years later, the Alternate Delivery of Legal Services Committee has almost completed its work as it prepares to present its final report to the Benchers.

The Committee explored the proposition that it would be good public policy if non-lawyers were more generally entitled to deliver legal services, thus increasing the supply of legal services, and making legal services more accessible to all Albertans.

In testing this proposition, various research methodologies were undertaken by independent research consultants including: a general consumer survey of legal services usage and attitudes, a survey of the legal profession, an industry profile of non-lawyer legal service delivery, and legal research on the definition of the practice of law.

In September 2011, the Benchers adopted the following broad recommendations:

  1. To continue to support and facilitate the expansion of legal services by non-lawyers under the supervision of a lawyer in areas of high need for low income Albertans particularly in the government and not-for-profit sectors (such as the Student Legal Services Family Law Chambers project).
  2. To pursue a definition of the practice of law with the Department of Justice based on the key principles enumerated in the Alternate Delivery of Legal Services report for amendment to the Legal Profession Act.

The final report of the ADLS Committee will be presented at the February 2012 Bencher meeting.

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