I am Vladimir Reznik and I am running for paralegal Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario in the 2023 election. Running on a platform of being a Candidate who makes sense.
I continue with my series of videos where I reach out and introduce myself to you, and reflect with you on matters that are important in this election.
In the previous videos on the topic of scope, I discussed my views and criticisms of the fragmentation of the paralegal profession. I shared my platform views that those of us already licensed, who are already sworn to abide by the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, we can and should be trusted to catch up to any expansion of scope through self-education, and by adhering strictly to the standards of our duty of competence in our chosen field of legal services.
When elected a bencher, not only will I promote and strengthen the standards of paralegals’ duty of competence, I will stand to improve paralegals’ access to competence, while at the same time allowing paralegals to exercise their own informed discretion on self-education and professional development.
But in this video, I would like to explore a number of other fields where the By-Law 4 could be amended not as a matter of adding completely new areas of law, but as a matter of recognizing the reality of certain fields where paralegals already have sufficient competence or sufficiently transferrable competence from pre-licensing education.
Immigration Law, in addition to every other argument for it, could be approached from that angle as well.
As a paralegal who is also a realtor, I mentioned in the previous video an example of litigating before the Ontario Land Tribunal. It is another example where competence is presumed, even though planning, environmental, and municipal law is not specifically studied in most paralegal programs. But here is something else that I have been exposed to in the real estate business. And this is the additional background, experience, and insights that I am happy to bring to the table at the Convocation.
As a broker, a member of real estate associations, and not as a paralegal, I have engaged in certain types of legal services that are not OPEN to paralegals but were open to me as a member.
As a broker member of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, I have been involved in commission dispute matters between brokerages, and I have represented other members of the real estate profession before the Arbitration Panel of the real estate board.
I have also advised Realtors in regards to professional standards known as the members’ REALTOR code. This relates to professional ethics, which are enforced by the Professional Standards divisions of the Real Estate Associations. Just to be clear, those matters are separate from the regulator’s discipline process, they are dealt with internally by the professional associations, not by RECO.
In fact, as a fellow member, I have once defended another real estate broker in proceedings before a hearing panel of a real estate association on allegations of conduct unbecoming.
Those professional standards and arbitration hearing panels are quasi-judicial tribunals known as private or domestic tribunals, but they are not statutory tribunals within the scope of the By-law 4.
In these private tribunals, a member may be represented by another member of the same association, or by a lawyer, but not by a paralegal, at least not according to the strict reading of the By-Law 4.
It defies common sense for me that these tribunals and private member arbitrations are Not open for paralegals to provide legal services despite already having procedural knowledge and core competencies including mandatory competencies in alternative dispute resolution.
Paralegal students receive the same compulsory minimum instructional hours in ADR as in Summary Criminal Procedure, Advocacy, Administrative Law, Residential Landlord and Tenant Law, Employment Law, and until now in Torts and Contracts.
It makes no sense to me that we are precluded from providing legal services in the area of ADR, at least in some limited and well-defined private tribunals and small-scale trade arbitration matters.
When elected a bencher, I will stand for guiding more research into this and other areas where paralegals are already competent and capable of advancing access to justice.
I will also stand for removing the By-Law 4 limitation that a tribunal where paralegals are allowed to provide legal services must necessarily be a statutory one.
As a paralegal who is also a real estate broker, I cannot count how many times my colleagues and I have agonized in frustration over residential leases drafted by realtors.
Realtors are authorized to draft residential leases under the current legislation. But as a realtor, I can attest to you that realtors unfortunately do not receive adequate mandatory training for drafting those leases. Yet paralegals, who litigate them every day, who have profound up-to-date knowledge on relevant case law, and on the Landlord and Tenant Board procedures are precluded from doing so by the application of the By-Law 4.
It again makes no sense to me and it frustrates me and frustrates many of us that paralegals are precluded from being able to negotiate and draft residential leases, being an area where paralegals already have the skills and competence to do so.
It is my view that if authorized, paralegals are not only capable of providing excellent service in that area, but are also capable of directly impacting and bringing down the numbers of landlord and tenant disputes, which unnecessarily backlog the Landlord and Tenant Board.
Authorizing paralegals to arrange and draft residential leases could have an immediate and palpable impact on access to justice across every community in Ontario. It could have an immediate reduction of processing times and costs of operating the Landlord and Tenant Board in this Province.
Here is the best part. The Trust in Real Estate Services Act, already contains provisions exempting from registration requirements a person who trades in real estate for the sole purpose of arranging leases to which the Residential Tenancies Act applies. This means a paralegal is not required to be registered as a real estate agent in order to trade in the area of arranging residential tenancies, including earning commissions or other fees from landlords. If only the By-Law 4 had made sense not to exclude it.
When elected a bencher, I will stand for guiding more research into this and other areas where paralegals already possess competencies and are capable of advancing access to justice.
I will stand for removing the By-Law 4 limitations and for amending the By-Law 4 to reflect our current abilities and to fill the gaps where contributions by the paralegal profession are missing.
And those are my platform ideas on the expansion of scope in areas where we are ready to stand recognized. Thank you for getting to know them.