Kopyto Continues His Challenge to Law Society Stranglehold Over Paralegals

TORONTO, ON (11 December 2009) As part of his challenge to their takeover of the paralegal profession, Harry Kopyto is back before the Law Society on Monday December 21, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. at Osgoode Hall (Lamont Learning Centre, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto). His first order of business will be to try once again to remove Paul Dray from the three-person panel that will rule on his request for disclosure. This forms part of Kopyto’s broader request that the Society furnish him with all documents relating to their decision to challenge his application to continue working as a paralegal.

Harry lost his first foray against Dray on October 26, 2009 when he challenged Dray for bias because of his approximate 11-year stint as a Peel Region cop. (Dray has since graduated to greener fields heading the private company contracted to provide prosecutors for Peel Region’s Provincial Offences Courts). But what Harry did not fully appreciate at the time was Paul Dray’s pivotal involvement in the Law Society takeover of the paralegal profession.

As President of the Professional Paralegal Association of Ontario (PPAO), Paul Dray was the inside man for the Law Society, orchestrating a backroom deal that was hidden from PPAO members and ultimately resulted in the acceptance of the Law Society takeover of the paralegal profession. The secret deal was made by a majority of the PPAO executive at a convention that voted unanimously in favour of self-regulation and would have opposed such a deal were it not shrouded in a veil of secrecy.

In return for defusing the near-universal opposition to the Law Society’s takeover among paralegals, Dray was crowned chair of the Paralegal Standing Committee whose five paralegal members include two other former police officers. In that capacity, he has become the self-described leader of implementing the paralegal regulations. He has vigorously defended the Law Society against charges that the takeover would choke competition and result in higher fees and thereby restricting access to justice — although this is exactly what has happened.

This predicament is precisely the thrust of Kopyto’s argument against the takeover. Kopyto’s motion for disclosure further centres on the Law Society’s refusal to release its correspondence and documents relating to this issue, including Dray’s personal response to concerns addressed to him expressed by the Federal Competition Bureau. The Bureau has written Dray advising the Society against restricting competition by taking over their competitors. Should Paul Dray remain on the panel, he will effectively be responsible for deciding whether or not his own personal correspondence and records should be released to Kopyto. This is a clear breach of natural justice and a major conflict of interest.

More generally, the Law Society has refused to provide Kopyto with a range of documents in their possession that are relevant to the case. Instead, it has offered to provide him only those documents on which they intend to rely. It is trying to block him from obtaining other documents relating to the Law Society’s decision to challenge his application to continue working as a paralegal, documents pertaining to information that he believes will exonerate him of an amalgam of allegations against him and documents that will demonstrate the clear bias against him by the Law Society.

Kopyto is thus calling on all those who support fair and equitable access to justice and legal representation to come to the 9:30am hearing on December 21, 2009 in the Lamont Learning Centre at Osgoode Hall (130 Queen Street West, Toronto). The Law Society is the voice of Big Law trying to drive out dissidents and critics from the professions it oversees. Harry is one of the few advocates who have stood up consistently against the legal establishment over decades. His success would be a victory for those without power and influence to have their voices heard in the courtrooms. His defeat would consolidate a legal system becoming more and more inaccessible to all but the rich. We insist that he be entitled to procedural fairness and an unbiased panel to judge him. The public interest demands no less.

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