Licensed Paralegal

Why Hire a Paralegal?

Two reasons, really – cost effective service, and specialization.

Paralegals can practice in a defined scope of law, and as such, are specialists in the areas of law that affect most people. Paralegals can offer services in administrative tribunals (such as the Landlord – Tenant Board), in Provincial court matters (such as traffic tickets), the Small Claims Court (for civil suits up to $25,000) and summary conviction criminal law (where the maximum penalty is six months’ incarceration, such as Theft Under $5,000).

Since this is where we practice, this is what we develop expertise in; paralegals are experts in the Residential Tenancies Act, in the Highway Traffic Act, in the criminal charges they represent and the law that they practice.

The standards paralegals are held to is the same as a practicing lawyer; there is a licensing process, culminating in a 3.5 hour exam; there is mandatory insurance against professional liability; there is the duty of confidentiality to the client; there is a requirement for continuing professional development. Paralegals are licensed and regulated members of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and are under the same strict obligations as lawyers.

Paralegals charge rates a fraction of what a lawyer may charge, often an inclusive flat rate for a matter from beginning to end. The overwhelming majority of people in a recent survey were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the service they received from a licensed paralegal, and plan to use a paralegal in the future. The popularity of paralegal franchises such as POINTTS and X-Copper attest to the value of the service that paralegals provide, and the public’s need for affordable, professional legal service.

So how do you find a licensed paralegal? First of all, ask friends or family who have worked with paralegals in the past and can offer recommendations. 

The Law Society also has an online Lawyers and Paralegal Directory that lists all licensed lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. The directory is searchable by name, city or postal code. If the paralegal has a discipline history, practice restrictions or if there is a trusteeship, this will be specified in the directory listing. 

Another useful resource is the Law Society’s Referral Service that will give you the name of a lawyer or paralegal in your area willing to provide a free consultation of up to 30 minutes to help you determine your rights and options.