What Can a Paralegal Do in Ontario?
October 4th, 2021 / By triOS College
The legal field attracts those who like to help people and have a strong passion for justice. If you’re someone who is interested in the legal field, consider a career as a paralegal. In becoming a paralegal, individuals have the opportunity to work in the sector of law they enjoy the most by being employed by law firms and other legal offices. This field is ideal for anyone who enjoys working with people, policy, and procedure and performing tasks related to working in an office environment.
Sometimes called legal assistants, paralegals are an integral component to the practice of law as they can not only assist lawyers but can also work independently to provide legal services to the public as allowed by government legislation. Those interested in becoming a paralegal will have to successfully complete a paralegal studies program.
Paralegals who are self-employed can:
• Represent clients in small claims court and in other lower court proceedings
• Represent clients at tribunals and before administrative bodies
• Advise clients and take legal action on landlord and tenant matters, traffic violations, name changes, and other issues within their jurisdictions
Paralegals who work for law firms and related businesses can:
• Interview clients, witnesses, and other related parties
• Research records and court files
• Assemble evidence and legal documents
• Prepare trial briefs and arrange trial dates
• Assist lawyers in preparation for mediation and judicial dispute resolutions
• Under the supervision of a lawyer, prepare wills, real estate transactions, and other legal documents, court reports, and affidavits
A career as a paralegal is a great career option as it still allows individuals to experience aspects of the law field, such as meeting with clients, going to court, doing research, and preparing legal documents as lawyers do, with less time spent in school.
How to Become a Paralegal in Ontario
Becoming a paralegal is not a lengthy process, but it still takes dedication and skills training. In Ontario, paralegals must be licensed by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) or fall within one of the categories, which are exempt, to provide legal services. Aspiring paralegals must successfully complete a post-secondary education program accredited by the LSO and pass the licensing exam before they can begin taking on clients or be employed by others.
Most community and private colleges have paralegal, law, or related diploma programs that vary from 1 to 2 years. This is great news for individuals who want to get to work in a rewarding career sooner. Those with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from a university can become paralegals as well. However, this option does take longer and is more costly. In addition to an education, it is imperative to get real experience in the field. Selecting a college program with an internship component is the best way to ensure you get hands-on experience. An internship allows students to take their learning beyond the classroom and begin to situate themselves in the field. Students can start to think about which type of law they’d like to work in and get a firsthand look at the profession in action. An internship also provides students with the opportunity to network and create valuable connections in the field before they graduate.
How Much Do Paralegals Make in Ontario?
According to the Ontario Job Bank, paralegals usually earn between $17.58/hour and $50.55/hour in Ontario. This means that paralegal salary in Ontario can vary from $35,000 to upwards of $97,000 per year. The median paralegal salary in Ontario is approximately $57,000. These numbers vary based on the experience level of the paralegal and where in Ontario the paralegal decides to practice. Paralegals can further increase their earning potential by becoming a notary public. In Ontario, only practicing paralegals and lawyers can apply for this additional certification.
The LSO defines notary publics as having all the power of a commissioner for taking affidavits (written statements confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court). In Ontario, they also certify, witness, and attest the execution of a document, and certify and attest documents to be legitimate copies of the original. Becoming a notary is a great option for paralegals who are self-employed and want to perform more of the tasks that are commonly done under the supervision of a lawyer on their own. Notaries can draw up mortgages, wills, and other legal documents as well as administer the estate of deceased individuals.
Can Paralegals Work Part-Time?
Paralegals can find work in a variety of legal office settings working full or part-time. An independent paralegal can set their own hours; however, they may vary based on client need and the type of services they choose to provide. Paralegals can work in almost any legal department so long as they are practicing legal services as allowed by government legislation. Employers who hire paralegals on a part-time basis can be law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies, as well as not-for-profit organizations. In these roles, paralegals may work a few hours daily or full days a few times a week. Part-time paralegals usually assist lawyers with their cases by performing administrative and clerical duties.
Your Next Step
If you’re someone who is organized, efficient, and enjoys working in a team, you may excel in a career as a paralegal. Researching the paralegal profession will help you get a better understanding of what aspect of law you may be interested in providing paralegal services for, small claims court, provincial offenses, tribunals, criminal, etc. Once you’ve settled on a direction, you need to enroll in a paralegal or related program accredited by the LSO. Make sure that the institution you choose has an internship component to ensure you get the opportunity to put your skills to use and make connections in the field. Once you pass the licensing exam with the Law Society of Ontario, regularly check in with them and the Ontario Paralegal Association to stay up to date with industry news and updates.
Learn more about the paralegal profession and triOS College’s paralegal diploma program.