Paralegal rules amended re: conflict of interest standard for pro bono and short-term legal services

Posted: 02/27/2020

Bookshelf full of legal booksConvocation amended the Paralegal Rules of Conduct to extend the modified conflict of interest standard in the short-term pro bono legal services rules to paralegals who provide short-term legal services under the auspices of a Legal Aid Ontario program or clinic, or a clinical education course or program.

Paralegals in circumstances to which these rules apply may provide short-term legal services without undertaking a conflicts check. Short-term legal services are usually provided in circumstances in which it is difficult to systematically screen for conflicts of interest. This may result in delays or denial of services. In addressing this problem, the short-term legal services rules promote access to justice for vulnerable members of the public.

The Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines were also amended by the Paralegal Standing Committee regarding the importance of conflicts-checking systems and minimizing conflict risks.

The rule and guideline amendments reflect similar amendments made to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct.

Prior to the amendments, the paralegal rules extended the modified conflicts standard only to volunteer paralegals who provided short-term pro bono services under the auspices of a pro bono or not-for-profit legal services provider and paralegals who provided services under the auspices of a Pro Bono Ontario program.

See the full report to Convocation for more information.