Alberta Paralegals: Divorce Options for People with Financial Barriers
Paralegals aren’t the problem, bad actors in the legal profession are the problem
Lawyers are fighting against the ability for paralegals to file divorces. Paralegal-led divorces make legal services more accessible to people with financial barriers. This often includes women, and BI&POC. Lack of fair access to legal services is an enormous problem in many Canadian jurisdictions.
Recently in media stories, and in direct communications with paralegal divorce firms, Law Societies have implied that paralegal-led divorces are inherently riskier than lawyer-led divorces. This is simply untrue.
There are unfortunately clients who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous lawyers, and others who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous paralegals. The problem is unethical legal professionals not paralegals.
What Do Alberta Paralegals Do?
Many people don’t understand what a paralegal does. We aren’t simply “junior lawyers.” We are specialists in how the court system works. This means our divorce files can move more quickly and often with fewer errors.
Here is an analogy:
Doctors have much more education than personal trainers. However if what you want is an exercise program, a personal trainer is going to do a better job, because that is where their training concentrates. Personal trainers are NOT permitted to give medical advice. Patients go to doctors for their medical advice, and they get an exercise specialist to create their weightlifting program. Both professions can co-exist with mutual respect.
Paralegals are the same. Divorce paralegals are specialists in filing divorces. In fact if you hire a lawyer to do your divorce, a paralegal will still do the actual filing.
Divorce Options in Alberta
We don’t dispense legal advice. We don’t represent clients in court. Lawyers do that, as it is their area of expertise. However, the document side of divorce is a paralegal’s specialty. This is just as the exercise component of healthcare is a personal trainer’s specialty. What the law society is asking for is basically like saying that only doctors should be allowed to offer exercise programs.
Without divorce paralegals in Alberta, clients would have only 2 choices: spend thousands on lawyers, or file their divorce totally on their own. Neither of these is possible for many people. A third option is necessary for consumer choice.
If you want to know if a paralegal might be a good option for you, take our Alberta Divorce Quiz.
If you’re thinking about hiring a divorce lawyer, you probably know you need help bringing your divorce to a successful conclusion.