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Representation - Lay Advocate Scope of Authority

The permissible activities of lay advocates (ie. those neither licensed as lawyers nor paralegals), are structured as an exception to the paralegal scope of activity. That is, a 'permitted' lay advocate may superficially 'do' what a paralegal may do - that is, the central s.30 lay-advocate provision adopts the key paralegal 'legal services' language in the phrasing: "(t)he following may, without a licence, provide legal services in Ontario that a licensee who holds a Class P1 licence is authorized to provide: ..." ['P1' is the paralegal license]. But that's deceptive, as the lay advocate categories (listed below) are further restricted by their own circumstances. It's not as though 'lay advocates' - just due to their acknowledged skill and experience - may open up shop with a 'paralegal' (with-an-asterisk) sign.

This is evident when we explore the lay advocate exceptions [LSO By-law 4, ss.30]:
  • In-house Legal Providers

    Employees providing legal services only for their employers.

  • Legal Clinics

    Employees of a community Legal Aid Services Act, 1998 clinic.

  • Not-for-profit organizations

    Employees of a community and government-funded not-for-profit organization "established for the purposes of providing the legal services".

  • Acting for friend or neighbour

    Friends or neighbours acting for the same, without pay and no more than three times a year.

  • Acting for family

    Family members acting for the same, without pay.

  • Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs)

    MPPs or their staff acting for constituents.

  • Member of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario ("HRPAO Members")

    HRPAO members in the 'Certified Human Resources Professional category', but only occasionally and ancillary to their profession or occupation.
On examination of these categories, you will see that they are not 'paralegal-substitute qualifications', rather they are practical allowances to recognize situations that largely pre-date the paralegal regime.

In any event of their limitations, these lay-advocate representative authorities are implicitly supported by several forum-specific statutes that allow anyone to represent others in tribunals or specific courts [CJA 26 (Small Claims Court)], POA 50(3) (provincial offences) and SPPA 23(3) (administrative tribunals)], subject to exclusion for incompetence. In contrast, paralegals and lawyers may not be competency-excluded by an otherwise-authorized tribunal or court - leaving such direct regulation to the Law Society.

[last edit 12 Nov 2022]


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