01/02/2013 05:12 EST | Updated 03/04/2013 05:12 EST

Paralegals offer cheaper, faster legal help in family matters in pilot project

VANCOUVER - A pilot project is being launched in B.C. aimed at giving people a cheaper, faster way to deal with family matters in the courts.

Under an agreement between provincial and supreme courts and the B.C. Law Society, some paralegals will be allowed to make appearances in court on behalf of their clients to deal with procedural issues and will also provide legal advice to clients in certain areas.

Paralegals have an education in legal work but are not lawyers themselves and often work under the direct supervision of a lawyer.

Doug Munro of the Law Society says using paralegals will make legal services cheaper, since they charge less than a lawyer, and speed up court matters that can be delayed when people try to represent themselves.

The pilot project will see paralegals in provincial courts in the Cariboo, northeast B.C. and Surrey, while other paralegals will be allowed in Supreme Court in Vancouver, New Westminster and Kamloops.

The idea will be tested for two years to see if it works before it may be expanded to other areas of law in B.C.