In British Columbia, we have a specific group of paralegals that are considered to be "designated paralegals." According to the Law Society, a designated paralegal is one who is able to "give legal advice and represent clients before court or tribunal. " They are also able to give and receive undertakings, and to represent clients at a family law mediation.
There are several limits on this designation, however. With regards to a paralegal attending at a family law mediation, the supervising lawyer must be available by telephone or other electronic means throughout and they must approve whatever agreement is made at the mediation. Additionally, a lawyer can only supervise two designated paralegals at one time.
Also, it is the job of the supervising lawyer to decide, on a case by case basis, whether a paralegal has the skills, training and good character to act as a designated paralegal. A designated paralegal cannot move necessarily move to a new firm and stay designated - they would need to find another lawyer who was willing to supervise them in their designated paralegal capacity.
The designated paralegal category is a fairly new. It was approved in June of 2012 and implemented in January 2013. The main goal of the program is to provide improved access to justice through lower cost legal assistance. The project started as a pilot, but it has continued on. The Law Society launched a survey to gather information about lawyer's experience with the program in Fall, 2015.
It's a very interesting idea, and a step towards the program that Ontario has in place (more on that next time!). However, in my preliminary internet searches, it doesn't appear that there are many designated paralegals practicing now.
Perhaps that's because:
I'll keep watch for the designated paralegal lawyer survey to see if they can shed any light on the current state of the program.