A Paralegal: 3 Things You Need To Know Before Becoming One
May 27th, 2016 / By triOS College
As with all institutions, legal firms have individuals behind-the-scenes who use their talents to support others on staff — paralegals. Typically employed by law offices, government, or large companies, a paralegal performs a range of duties for attorneys. This allows the latter to devote their full time and attention to a client’s needs.
Paralegals also perform an important service for members of the general public. Average persons may find themselves in legal dilemmas they do not understand and attempt to rectify the situation armed only with their own knowledge. Paralegals have the professional training to guide them through these situations and work to gain the best possible outcome for the client.
Every paralegal operating in Ontario requires a license, which makes a solid education an especially important step before attempting the required exams.
WORKING WITH THE PUBLIC
Paralegals sometimes do the legwork for cases, such as research, but often work in small claims court and traffic court. While lawyers represent clients facing notable criminal charges and the possibility of a lengthy jail sentence, paralegals work with individuals charged with lesser offenses. This typically means crimes where the maximum sentence does not exceed six months.
Paralegals representing clients in small claims court work on cases where the maximum monetary gain from a lawsuit is a set amount (e.g., $25,000 in Ontario). This can include companies suing individuals for unpaid debts or persons taking contractors to court over dissatisfaction with their work. Paralegals strive to either have these cases dropped or negotiate settlements that best suit the client’s current status.
Traffic court offenses can include failing to remain at the scene of an accident, speeding, and failing to observe stop signs. A paralegal’s services are especially valuable in these cases because clients are challenging law enforcement representatives that are accustomed to giving evidence in court. Paralegals have the experience to know what questions to ask and what avenues to pursue when it comes to having the charges dropped or reduced.
ONTARIO PARALEGALS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE
Paralegal duties differ somewhat, depending on the province you work in. For example, paralegals in Ontario can work alongside lawyers and some even have their own practices. Paralegals in other parts of Canada are more restricted in their duties, meaning fewer job opportunities.
This varies greatly across the country. The salary range for a paralegal in Canada averages $22.68 an hour, with a high-end wage in the range of $32.72. Paralegals employed by the government can make as much as $70,000 per year. Those with a private practice have the potential to earn even more.
LET’S GET STARTED
triOS College’s Paralegal program provides students with everything they need to pursue roles in tribunal practice, residential landlord and tenant law, and civil litigation within the limit of the Small Claims Court. The Law Society of Upper Canada accredits our paralegal program, and graduates are also qualified for admission to the Paralegal Licensing Process. In addition to an intensive 48-week classroom program, students also benefit from a month-long field placement.
Contact triOS today to learn more about our how our paralegal program can help you achieve your career goals in the legal field!