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Public input wanted on improving access to legal services

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:23 PDT, Thu September 22, 2022

British Columbians are encouraged to share their thoughts on the province's plans to simplify the regulatory framework for legal professionals so more people can connect to the legal supports and advice they need.

Currently, lawyers are regulated by the Legal Profession Act and notaries are regulated by the Notaries Act. Paralegals are not regulated. A public survey launched recently is looking for feedback on a proposal to bring all regulated legal professionals under one independent regulator.

The proposed changes are designed to improve access to legal services and better protect the public interest. An intentions paper, which provides high-level information on the proposal, is posted online for public review. Feedback collected will inform upcoming legislative changes and be summarized in a report that will be available in winter 2022-23.

The survey will be open until 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time) on Nov. 18. To participate in the survey and read the intentions paper, visit engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/consultation/legal-professions-reform/

The proposed changes to the regulatory framework for legal professions are part of the province's work to improve access to legal services for all British Columbians.

The Law Society of British Columbia conducted a survey in 2020 that found 60 per cent of people in B.C. with a legal problem got no legal advice about their situation, and of the 40 per cent that did get advice, about 15 per cent went to a lawyer. The survey found that cost was the main reason people decided to work with someone other than a lawyer to resolve a legal problem.

The province has invested over $35 million in legal aid during the past five years and funded eight new legal clinics to improve access to legal services throughout B.C.

To read the Legal Profession Act, visit bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/98009_01

To read the Notaries Act, visit bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96334_01

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