Candidate bio description
• Paralegal for more than 30 years advocating on behalf of injured workers before the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) & the Workplace Safety & Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT)
• Appointed Bilingual Paralegal Adjudicator with the Law Society Tribunal for the past 6 years
• Past Adjudicator for the Rental Housing Tribunal
• Paralegal Past Affiliate Executive Member of the Ontario Bar Association WSIB Bar Section; 6 years
• President & founder of Lomazzo Worker’s Compensation Appeals Professional Corporation
• Paralegal presenter for various CPD programs at the Law Society, the Ontario Bar Association & College & other programs
• Mentor to paralegals & students through co-ops, shadowing & training
• Paralegal Advisory Committee member since 2008 at St. Clair College, including developing a 'graduate' WSIB education program which is pending approval
• Member, Ontario Paralegal Association
• Nominated for the Law Society’s 2019 Distinguished Paralegal Award
• 30 years governance experience sitting on Boards of Directors at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital for the past 7 years, the Homeless Shelter for Women, Citizen advocacy, The Unemployed Help Center, Family Services to name a few. Numerous community volunteer experiences including serving at the local Food Mission and fundraising for various local charities.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
What inspired me to run for bencher this year is my passion and commitment to the Paralegal profession. The current Paralegal Benchers have accomplished a lot, but there is still so much to do. Since Michelle Haigh has termed out and Brian Lawrie is not running, there are some big shoes to fill. Cathy Corsetti, Robert Burd and Marian Lippa have laid the foundation and now it's time for some fresh recruits with new ideas. I have 30+ years in the profession and have spoken with paralegals across the province who want expansion of scope of service as long as it is done responsibly, ensuring competence. We need more seats for paralegal benchers in the PSC and those seats should be devoted to regional benchers. Licensing exemptions need to be reviewed so we don't have those who are licensed and those who are not, representing clients in the same areas of law, like we experience before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal. Lawyer benchers have regional representation with 20 members elected from the GTA and 20 regional members elected from across the province. Paralegals should have regional representation as well, so the concerns of all paralegals across the province are addressed. There has never been a paralegal bencher elected outside the GTA. We need to change that. I have much to offer given my breadth of experience. My experience sitting on numerous Boards of Directors is directly in line with governing the legal profession. I understand how to effect change given my extensive board experience and I look forward to the opportunity to do so for the paralegal profession.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
Education and longer mentoring programs are necessary. Ensuring competency is one of the biggest issues facing the paralegal profession. If we want to ensure public confidence and trust in the profession, we need to ensure paralegals are competent in their areas of practice. We have a duty of competency to our clients. We erode the faith in the paralegal profession and the public when paralegals who are not competent in their area of practice, take on matters they are ill equipped to handle. The LSO needs to develop a strategy around ensuring paralegal competence in the various areas of practice. We also need to expand the scope of practice to include the Family Law License, immigration, Bill C-75, basic Wills and Real Estate transactions and other areas where paralegals can fill gaps and ensure access to justice. Professional regulation is also very important. Ensuring ethical conduct is paramount as this affects the reputation of the paralegal profession. Together, we can make the responsible changes to fulfill our mandate of access to justice and protection of the public in our self-regulated profession. And jobs are so important. There are so many areas we can already practice in however, paralegals need the educational programs so they can learn about workers’ compensation for instance. The current curriculum seems to focus on LTB, Small Claims Court, POA and Summary Convictions under 6 months, so those areas of practice are saturated while there are so few going into areas like WSIB.
What would be your first priority upon election?
I will focus my energies on access to justice, by continuing the work already done by the current Benchers in the area of the new Family Law License. I have heard numerous paralegals desire to expand into other areas of practice as well and I will explore and advocate in this regard, ensuring competence is key to any expansion. I will also work hard to reduce exemptions. There are still far too many exemptions and it's not right that we as licensed Paralegals must pay dues, file annual reports, ensure our CPD hours are completed and undergo audits and discipline when others do the same work under exemptions. I will also push to implement educational changes to the current programs to ensure competency and advocate for longer placements. As a new Bencher, getting familiar with Convocation and the processes in place will be paramount. I have sat as an appointed part-time Bilingual Adjudicator for the Law Society Tribunal adjudicating paralegal conduct, competence and capacity as well as good character hearings. As a result, I am very familiar with Convocation's responsibility to protect the public.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
I hope to advance the paralegal profession to a new level. We’re at a critical juncture. Campaigning the last few months, I have met numerous paralegals across the province who have expertise in their particular areas of legal service. Their level of competence is commendable and impressive. We need to increase the respect for the profession by ensuring all paralegals are 'competent' in their respective area(s) of legal services. This of course goes hand in hand with professional regulation and ensuring the ethical conduct of paralegals. We also need more paralegal benchers on the Paralegal Standing Committee (PSC); any new bencher positions should be dedicated regional bencher seats to ensure adequate representation of all paralegals views, across the province.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
I've been a WSIB/WSIAT worker representative in the Windsor, southwestern Ontario region for the past 30 years. There are so few of us in the workers' compensation field and many who have been doing WSIB representation are approaching retirement age. We need to make sure the paralegal profession is looking at the needs of individual communities to ensure these gaps in service are filled. Access to justice by expanding certain legal fields with particular education to ensure competency is key. Jobs are a top priority. We need to creatively assist legal groups and lawyers to make the best use of paralegals in their practices to relieve their burden and at the same time create worthwhile opportunities for paralegals.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
Yes I do. I believe there is symbolic value in signing and acknowledging that Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are components of justice and that these should be upheld by all legal practitioners. Some claim the LSO has a 'superficial' view of diversity. I suspect the intent by which the statement of principles was created was with the best of intentions. It was supported & passed by Convocation after intensive input and research by the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group.