News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

March 9, 2020

Manitoba Introduces Legislation That Would Improve Access to Legal Services

The Manitoba government is introducing legislation that would provide more affordable and accessible options for legal information and representation while still ensuring appropriate public protections are in place, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

“The current approach to accessing legal advice is limited, with few options available to Manitobans,” said Cullen.  “For some people, the cost of hiring a lawyer is prohibitive, meaning they go without the advice they need.  Others need some advice and support, but not the full scope of legal services that a lawyer provides.  This change enables the creation and regulation of alternative legal service providers to meet the needs of Manitobans, improving access to justice for all.”

The practice of law is regulated by the Law Society of Manitoba and currently, for the most part, legal services can only be provided by lawyers and articling students.  The proposed amendments to The Legal Profession Act would allow the Law Society to designate and regulate another category of regulated legal service provider, called a limited practitioner, who can provide specified legal services.  The legislation would also allow the Law Society to determine who could be designated as a limited practitioner, what their scope of work might be, and what training and education would be required.

“The benchers of the Law Society of Manitoba are committed to being leaders in the advancement of increased access to justice for all Manitobans,” said Anita Southall, president, Law Society of Manitoba.  “This proposed legislation will permit the Law Society to establish the scope of practice for limited practitioners and to ensure that those who provide services will only do so with appropriate training and education, and in prescribed areas that pose no risk to the public.”

The minister noted these changes could help support plans to modernize and streamline the family law system in Manitoba.  For example, changes might enable a limited practitioner to provide advice on parenting arrangements, child and spousal support, or how to handle shared property.  

“By extending the authority of the Law Society in this way, the scope of work handled by limited practitioners can evolve to better meet the legal needs of Manitobans,” said Cullen.  “It has the expertise of regulating legal services in the public interest.”

The Law Society recommended changes to government following its review of alternative legal service providers, which found there were unmet legal needs in the province and there was a need for more affordable alternatives for legal advice, information and representation.  The legislative changes are modelled on similar amendments recently introduced in Saskatchewan.

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