Family law licensing framework update
Since the Family Law Action Plan was approved in December 2017, the Law Society has carried out a significant amount of work in the development of a licensing framework that will permit paralegals and others to assist the public with certain family legal services. The Family Law Working Group—a bencher group established by Convocation—is responsible for overseeing the development of the licence.
The first step in building the licensing framework is the determination of the scope of permissible activities. Consultation has been key to the development of that scope, which is ongoing.
Over the past year, Law Society staff has met with over 100 stakeholders including family law practitioners, law clerks, paralegals, and intermediaries, such as court house staff, parenting coordinators, mediators, family support workers, and others, to gain insights into the opportunity areas for the provision of legal services in family law.
In addition, the Law Society has been following a formal, structured licence development process to map the scope of permissible family law activities, with input from subject-matter experts led by psychometricians (experts in the science of education and learning) with extensive involvement in the Law Society’s lawyer and paralegal systems of licensure over the past 15 years. Following several rounds of review and debate, these subject-matter experts were able to arrive at an initial draft scope of permissible activities for the Family Law Working Group’s review and comment.
Additional work remains to be done in order to continue to validate the initial draft scope and ensure that all potential items for inclusion are fully reviewed and considered before finalizing a scope and implementing it. The validation stage of the process will be guided by three principles: enhancing access to justice, protecting the public and ensuring the viability of the licence.
Once finalized, the scope of permissible activities will form the basis of the competencies, which are the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for this area of legal services provision. Competencies are the cornerstone of a defensible and rigorous licensing process. These competencies will in turn form the foundation of the training program and the Law Society’s assessment and education regime.