At its meeting on December 4, 2015, the Benchers of the Law Society of BC approved amendments to the BC Code of Professional Conduct to permit “designated paralegals” to represent clients at family law mediations. There are some conditions, including:
- The client must provide informed consent and supervising lawyer must provide permission, taking into account the paralegal’s skill, knowledge and training;
- The supervising lawyer must be available by telephone or other electronic means during the mediation sessions;
- The supervising lawyer must review any settlement agreement arising from a family law mediation and such agreements are provisional until the lawyer has signed off; and
- Supervising lawyers are strongly encouraged to ensure that the designated paralegal has at least 14 hours of training in screening for family violence.
Lawyers are professionally and legally responsible for all work delegated to paralegals. For further information please refer to the Law Society’s new rule (6.1-3.3) and commentaries:
“With the supervising lawyer’s permission, designated paralegals may represent clients at family law mediations (rule 6.1-3.3 and commentary) and guidance is provided to those supervising lawyers, including on recognizing family violence and giving legal advice (Appendix B commentary and Appendix E, Screening for family violence and Designated paralegals giving legal advice).”