Call for comment on proposed Family Legal Services Provider Licence
The Law Society’s Access to Justice (A2J) Committee has launched a Call for Comment on a Family Legal Services Provider (FLSP) licensing model.
Lawyers, paralegals, legal organizations and members of the public are invited to provide comments to determine whether this model is an effective approach to support improving access to justice in family law.
The development of a FLSP Licence is one of the Law Society’s responses aimed at facilitating access to justice in family law. The most acute legal need for Ontarians is representation in family court, where approximately 60 per cent of Ontarians do not have legal representation.
Additionally, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the provision of legal services in Ontario and may present family law litigants with additional access to justice challenges.
The Access to Justice Committee: Family Legal Services Provider License Consultation Paper is the result of several years of research and stakeholder discussions of the Law Society’s Family Law Action Plan which was approved by Convocation in 2017. The proposed FLSP Licence aims to provide individuals with more options to assist them in navigating the judicial system and is consistent with the Law Society’s duty to facilitate access to justice for Ontarians.
The model focuses on additional training and assessment and builds on existing paralegal competencies for those who wish to be considered as FLSP candidates. As part of the Call for Comment, the A2J Committee has also issued a Request for Information to accredited teaching facilities for the proposed training outline contained within the Consultation Paper.
Adhering to three guiding principles – access to justice, public protection, and viability – the proposed FLSP Licence would authorize service providers to offer the following services, with some limitations, in family law (such as divorces, custody agreements, child/spousal support and separation agreements):
- Legal advice
- Drafting legal documents
- Representation in court or before an adjudicative body
- Negotiating legal interests or rights
The model also outlines several activities and circumstances which would be out of scope for a FLSP. The full scope of proposed permissible activities required competencies and training are detailed in the Access to Justice Committee: Family Legal Services Provider Licence Consultation Paper.
The Call for Comment is an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the legal community and the public on the most effective approach to improving access to family law services. In addition to the Call for Comment, the LSO will convene focus groups and gather additional information to address the issues outlined within the Consultation Paper. Based on the findings of the consultation, the Access to Justice Committee will prepare recommendations for consideration by Convocation.
Comments may be submitted until Nov. 30, 2020