New Paradigm Para- Professional Legal Career Divorce Mediator

A New Paradigm Professional Legal Career Perspective

By John G. Kelly

B.Com., LL.B., M.Sc. (international relations) M.A. (Jud.Admin) F.CIS

www.professionalcareerlauncher.com

john@professionalcareerlauncher.com

 

The Judiciary and Federal Government  are emerging as the leaders in setting the bar and establishing parameters for “paraprofessionals”[1]in the family and health services markets in the “new professional legal services paradigm”. The Supreme Court of Canada’s Family Justice Action Group[2]found that well in excess of 50% of divorce claimants were choosing to self- represent rather than engage the services of a lawyers. It made the following recommendation.

Recommendation 8:
That the family justice system offer an array of dispute resolution options to help families resolve their disputes, including information, mediation, collaborative law,parenting coordination, and adjudication.

The federal government recently enacted MAID[3]legislative amendments to the Criminal Code which, to the surprise of the legal profession, granted the exclusive right to counsel and advice on complex health and the ethics of life and death legalese to Nurse Practitioners. It’s envisaged they will work in a “collaborativerelationship with physicians. In tabling proposed revisions to the federal Divorce Act, the federal government, in this instance, adhered to the recommendation of the Supreme Court and inserted what are in essence “paraprofessionals” in the “new professional services paradigm” jargon  as preferred first step professional services providers. 

BILL C-78

An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Family dispute resolution process

7.‍3 To the extent that it is appropriate to do so, the parties to a proceeding shall try to resolve the matters that may be the subject of an order under this Act through a family dispute resolution process.

family dispute resolution process means a process outside of court that is used by parties to a family law dispute to attempt to resolve any matters in dispute, including negotiation, mediationand collaborative law

Legal Adviser

Reconciliation

7.‍7 (1) Unless the circumstances of the case are of such a nature that it would clearly not be appropriate to do so, it is the duty of every legal adviserwho undertakes to act on a spouse’s behalf in a divorce proceeding

a) to draw to the attention of the spouse the provisions of this Act that have as their object the reconciliation of spouses; and

(b) to discuss with the spouse the possibility of the reconciliation of the spouses and to informthe spouse of the marriage counselling or guidance facilitiesknown to the legal adviser that might be able to assist the spouses to achieve a reconciliation

Duty to discuss and inform

(a) to encourage the person to attempt to resolve the matters that may be the subject of an order under this Act through a family dispute resolution process

The Paraprofessoinal

Paraprofessionals aren’t to be confused with paralegals. Paralegals and, in Ontario independent paralegals, undertake routine legal tasks that are deemed below the skill level of the full-fledged practice of law by lawyers. The emergence of the paraprofessional has been best articulated by new paradigm of law guru Richard Susskind, who among a growing list of international legal advisories, served as thought leader and strategic advisor the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) much acclaimed Futures Report[4]To quote Susskind:

The professions are our current solution to the challenge in a society of supporting people who need access to practical expertise. Yet affordable access to this expertise remains inadequate. If the price of keeping the personal interaction is maintaining this status quo, then the personal touch is also an indulgence we cannot afford[5]

Instead we might turn, for example, to a para-professional,someone with sufficient insight into an area of expertise as well as the genuine capacity to empathize.[6]

Mediators are a well- known classification of “paraprofessionals”. There is a vibrant Ontario Association of Family Mediators (OAFM)[7]and Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute[8]However, the complexity of the proposed amendments to the Divorce Act are going to require referrals to a new class of paraprofessionals that will enable lawyers to have the confidence to feel comfortable with primary referrals. The mediator is going to have to have “new paradigm”graduate level credentials and expertise to be able to instill the corresponding confidence in referred clients. In essence, what is going to be necessary for the proposed first instance referral system to function at a best practices level is a “collaborative Lawrelationship between new paradigm mediation paraprofessionals”and new paradigm family law practitioners”.

UK Law schools have direct entry one – year graduate LLM/MA Law degree programs that have been designed to provide graduates with the expertise and credentials to navigate complex family and divorce law and function as high performance mediators. To date, the federal government has been content to enact legislation that equips “paraprofessionals” with the requisite regulatory authority and leave it to participants in the marketplace to work out the full articulation of practice competency and professional working relationships. The immigration consulting experience[9]and MAID Nurse Practitioner early stage professional development are case studies of problems and conflicts that take place between lawyers and new entrants when there is a lack of preparedness on fully articulating the role and function of the newly entrant and empowered “paraprofessional”services providers.

There’s an opportunity in this instance for a core group of aspiring professionals and  mediation/alternative dispute associations to develop a mutually beneficial professional development program through an applied research linkage with one or more UK Law School’s direct entry LLM/MA Law mediator/alternative dispute programs through the LLM Professional Career Launcher program. It’s an opportunity that the federal government, mediator/alternative dispute organizations and aspiring professionals with a passion for working with clients to resolve marriage conflict law related issues to develop a core group of practice ready “paraprofessionals” with the competences and credentials to work pro-actively and productively in “collaborative law”  relationships at the legislative development stage.

[1]Richard Susskind, Daniel Susskind Oxford, The Future of the Professions, Oxford University Press. (2015)

[2]www.cfcj-fcjc.org/.

[3]www.dyingwithdignity.ca

[4]www.cba.org/…Futures…/Reports

[5]Ibid 1 at P.250

[6]Ibid 1 at P. 252

[7]www.oafm.on.ca

[8]adr-ontario.ca/

[9]www.iccrc-crcic.ca/

The Judiciary and Federal Government  are emerging as the leaders in setting the bar and establishing parameters for “paraprofessionals”[1]in the family and health services markets in the “new professional legal services paradigm”. The Supreme Court of Canada’s Family Justice Action Group[2]found that well in excess of 50% of divorce claimants were choosing to self- represent rather than engage the services of a lawyers. It made the following recommendation.

Recommendation 8:
That the family justice system offer an array of dispute resolution options to help families resolve their disputes, including information, mediation, collaborative law,parenting coordination, and adjudication.

The federal government recently enacted MAID[3]legislative amendments to the Criminal Code which, to the surprise of the legal profession, granted the exclusive right to counsel and advice on complex health and the ethics of life and death legalese to Nurse Practitioners. It’s envisaged they will work in a “collaborativerelationship with physicians. In tabling proposed revisions to the federal Divorce Act, the federal government, in this instance, adhered to the recommendation of the Supreme Court and inserted what are in essence “paraprofessionals” in the “new professional services paradigm” jargon  as preferred first step professional services providers.

BILL C-78

An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Family dispute resolution process

[1]Richard Susskind, Daniel Susskind Oxford, The Future of the Professions, Oxford University Press. (2015)

[2]www.cfcj-fcjc.org/.

[3]www.dyingwithdignity.ca

SaveSave

Posted in Future Law Perspectives.