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The following post is a response to my reflections on the Law Society’s AGM held on May 8th, 2013.  Mr. Tzanis has generously given his permission to reprint his response from LinkedIn.  They appear here without modification or editing.

 

Simon you write very well, you are articulate and thank you for your opinions and insight. I should confirm that the motion was not a P.S.O. motion, I signed off on it as an independent paralegal. Also, not only did I not believe we had a mandate from our members, I do not believe we had a mandate from paralegals at large. If we did have the mandate or support from paralegals for this motion, they were keeping it to themselves, save a few bloggers on the OPN and PSO Linkedin sites. As another example of what some might call apathy, most paralegals I have met throughout Ontario seem to support Marian Lippa’s Certiorari Application yet only 22 paralegals showed up at the Newmarket hearing in a large Court room and 12 of them were probably students.
I did consider getting up to speak but as I was contemplating the thought, I realized that even if I had the wisdom of Solomon, my statements might unnecessarily provoke those that opposed the motion and fire up a further debate that was not productive. By the time I wanted to get up to make a statement, it was announced that no more speakers would be permitted. After witnessing/hearing some of the unpleasant acrimony in some of the speeches, save a few excellent speakers (including the OBA President), I thought that was a great decision by the Treasurer.
The motion was withdrawn, I really wish the debate that ended the AGM did not occur. It was not the proper forum to move our position forward, most people that attended had made their minds up, it became apparent that there were not enough moderates in the audience or members that had not yet made up their minds, most were intransigent and there was no swaying them.
There is a proper forum to move our position forward and the PSO and LPA will continue to pursue the proper channels to achieve our member’s goals. We spend hundreds of hours every year on this mission as unpaid volunteers and most of us have very busy offices and family obligations. We are making progress, slower than some of our members would like but I truly believe that the LSUC is taking the David Morris Report’s recommendations seriously. I did notice something though, that lawyers that oppose expansion of the scope of practice seem to frame their arguments in terms of protecting the public and paralegals that support the expansion of the scope of practice, seem to frame their arguments in terms of providing access to justice. These are both part of the mantra of the LSUC, not individually or separately but together as one mission, one goal. I also noticed that when I deal with lawyers in business, through the P.S.O. or through my large family and acquaintances, we get along very, very well. We work together and we realize that each of us have an important and integral role in providing justice in the public interest. I would like to believe that the disparate opinions and positions that were present at the AGM do not represent the majority of lawyers and paralegals and we can work together as colleagues in a reasonable and collaborative manner to find common ground and consensus and achieve both goals, protection of the public and to provide wide and affordable access to justice.
One last thing, the PSO and LPA have excellent committees to further paralegal interests, if people really want to effect change, I call upon people to become a member, join our committees, make a sacrifice, contribute, volunteer. I always appreciate some good discussions on our Blogs but I don’t think the public, the Attorney General, the L.S.U.C. or the O.B.A. read our Blogs very much and they are the ones that need to hear from us in an articulate, reasoned, well-researched and persuasive fashion.

John Tzanis,

President
Paralegal Society of Ontario