This initiative allows individuals and organizations to propose a new technology, structure or legal service they want to provide to the public. If a proposal is accepted, the proponent is issued a “no action” letter which means that the LSBC will not prosecute the proponent or seek an injunction against them for the unauthorized practice of law. As of August 2022, there are 27 proponents of innovative services.
However, the report says there are limits to such a “no action” regulatory model for both proponents and the public. “From a proponent’s perspective, licensing can help establish credibility with the public, and from the public’s perspective, licensing helps assure them that the services are provided by competent and insured providers. It also provides a regulator with a more extensive set of regulatory tools when the services provided are unsatisfactory.”
The report notes that paralegals are not directly regulated in BC. Under the LSBC’s rules, a paralegal may provide some legal services, but they must work under the supervision of a lawyer responsible for their conduct. The LSBC also allows a lawyer to supervise up to two “designated paralegals” who can perform additional duties but remain subject to the oversight of the supervising lawyer.
In 2018, the BC legislature amended laws governing lawyers to create a new category of legal services providers called licensed paralegals, which would have given the LSBC the authority to make rules establishing the scope of practice of licensed paralegals or a class of licensed paralegals. However, these amendments still need to be in force.
The report states that BC’s notaries are also unique in Canada. They must complete a master’s degree program and have a broader practice authority than notaries in other jurisdictions.