Candidate bio description
Dear colleagues, I began my career in the early 1990’s and was licensed by the Law Society (LSO) in 2008. I have been a partner in a combined lawyer-paralegal law firm since 2010. As an employer, managing partner and practitioner at D’Alessio Romero Law Firm Professional Corporation, I appreciate many of the day-to-day issues and concerns that we and our associate lawyers, associate paralegals and articling and paralegal students have voiced regarding our legal profession. LSO members have no shortage of challenges as we try to balance our obligations to protect our clients’ best interests, develop and maintain our business practice while complying with our professional and regulatory responsibilities. Although I intend to speak about, and deal with, specific paralegal-related issues and concerns as part of my election platform, we are reminded that the LSO’s mandate is to protect the public interest by governing and regulating its members. As an elected Bencher, this mandate is what I believe governs many of the decisions in Convocation. My experience dealing with the global day-to-day common issues and concerns that law students, paralegal students, lawyers and paralegals share is an important paralegal Bencher perspective that I bring to Convocation given our need to protect the public interest. We should not view our paralegal-related issues and concerns in a vacuum since paralegal Benchers are not an island in Convocation. There are forty (40) lawyer Benchers and five (5) paralegal Benchers working together in different committees and task forces and my experience and perspective in these relationships matter. I urge you to get involved in the election process and I thank you for your confidence by voting for me.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
There is a need to expand and/or redefine our scope of practice to better serve the public’s needs and interests in conjunction with the need to focus more on technology and artificial intelligence to effectively and efficiently deliver our legal services.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
I believe it is the access to A2J conundrum caused by the government’s lack of sufficient funding for A2J initiatives and programs. Ironically, many lawyers and paralegals are looking for work but most of the general public can’t afford to pay for necessary legal services. Members then express concerns about the LSO not doing enough for them and if there is any LSO intervention to bridge the A2J gap, including fee increases or donations to fund certain A2J initiates and projects or the expansion of paralegals’ scope of practice, then members express further concerns about added costs or losses associated with membership in the LSO.
What would be your first priority upon election?
The first priority is to undergo the Bencher orientation process and then the rest is self-explanatory.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
There are many complicated and issues and concerns to address that may not be resolved, or achieved, overnight. Nevertheless, without the need to prioritise or limit those issues and concerns, at this time there is a need to:
• Continue with the ongoing development of the Access to Justice Committee (including Legal Aid), the Family Law Working Group and the goals of Task Force on Technology;
• Review existing legislation to include paralegals to reflect modern times to earn and maintain the respect of the public and fellow licensee members;
• Update Referral Fee and Contingency Fee guidelines;
• Review scope of practice amendments regarding Small Claims Court Appeals, Immigration, Summary Conviction and Criminal Code matters;
• Address concerns regarding education, placements, regulation and fees;
• Promote increasing the number of paralegals in Convocation in proportion to the increasing number of licensees in the profession;
• Look into paralegal Bencher representation within five Provincial regions; and
• Advance the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
I think we need our members to persuade the government to make A2J funding a priority. In the alternative, if the A2J responsibility is left to the LSO and its members, then perhaps we can review new ways to reduce LSO related costs to those who need it and increase these costs to certain members or law firms that can afford to contribute more. The public will have A2J and our members will have more work.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
I agree with the intentions of the Statement of Principles (SOP). The majority at the LSO has already determined the need for a requirement to create and abide by the SOP. We have approximately 59,000 LSO members and approximately 1,930 of those members who openly oppose to the SOP (stopsop.ca). There is also a minority of Bencher candidates who oppose the SOP compared to the overwhelming majority who support it. I believe in promoting diversity, equality and inclusion and I understand that the SOP is a yearly reminder of these valued principles. With respect, given the majority decision, it is clear to me that we live in a different society today that requires us to create and abide by the SOP.