So recently I was contacted by a couple of very nice ladies that actually live quite close to me. They had found me through my blog! They recently started up an independent paralegal practice, providing document preparation services for the general public, including things like uncontested divorce documents, dependent adult applications and will preparation.
And I have to admit that my first reactions to their business were “cool!” and “trouble” all at the same time. What can I say? I’m a rule-follower, I like to colour inside the lines most of the time. The idea of running an independent paralegal business and risking being charged with unauthorized practice of law isn’t so appealing to me, although I do think independent paralegals can offer a cost-effective benefit and if they were regulated and insured they would be a viable alternative for some people.
What are the rules like in your province/state/country? Do you agree? Do you think there are better options? I read a report from 2005 about reform in Alberta’s system which discussed mechanisms that might give litigants more choices (unbundled services, pro bono requirements for lawyers, better information for self-represented litigants) but no solution will be perfect for everyone.
And for the record, personally I provide virtual paralegal services to lawyers – not the general public! This way I get to do work I love but my work is always supervised by a lawyer, and therefore completely “by the rules” so to speak! I do provide general virtual assistance to business owners and entrepreneurs, but not legal assistance!
Laurie Mapp, Owner Halo Secretarial Services Contact us for more information on virtual legal assistance!