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You have probably heard of the term Paralegal from a friend, family member or a movie or TV show. Regardless of how you learned about the word, the question is, who is a paralegal?
What is a Paralegal in Ontario, Canada?
Depending on which country you are reading this article from, a Paralegal is defined by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) as a professional licensed to independently represent people in small claims court, traffic court, some criminal matters and before tribunals. Wikipedia defines a paralegal as a professional who performs tasks that require knowledge of legal concepts but not the full expertise of a lawyer with a license to practice law.
The definition of paralegal varies, as you can see from the above definitions. As hinted earlier, the definition is dependent on the region. However, for the sake of this article, we will focus on who is a paralegal in Toronto. In Toronto, paralegals are highly-valued legal team members. They are trained and knowledgeable in some aspects of law but are not lawyers. As my daughter will say, “Paralegals are like baby lawyers.”
Common tasks and responsibilities of a Paralegal
In Ontario, for example, a Toronto paralegal undertakes a wide range of both legal and administrative work. They may work independently or with barristers, solicitors, and chartered legal executives.
Their duties may vary depending on which department they belong to. However, the following are some of their most common tasks in Toronto, Ontario:
- Drafting legal documents, i.e., Plaintiff’s Claim
- Filing legal document
- Client case management
- Legal research
- Administrative support in a law firm
- Client intake, progression and client care
- Provide legal advise
- Serve legal document
- File motions
- Attending settlement conferences and trials
Who is a Paralegal
Video session by Litigation Help
What skills do paralegals require in Ontario
Paralegals need a particular set of skills to perform their job well, and these include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Ability to work effectively and efficiently under pressure
- Analytical skills
- An eye for detail
- A passion for the law
- Good communication skills
- Good organization skills
- Research competency
Ontario Paralegals’ areas of specialization
In Ontario, Paralegals are limited to certain areas of law. The following are some areas of law that paralegals can specialize in:
- Small claims
- Boards and tribunals, i.e., landlord and tenants
- Provincial offences, i.e., traffic violations
- Criminal Summary Conviction under $5000
- Notary Public services
Qualifications to Become a Paralegal
The two major steps to becoming a paralegal in Ontario are outlined as follows:
- Graduate from any Ontario-accredited paralegal education program
- Apply for a P1 license through the LSO
Is a Paralegal bachelor’s degree necessary?
Although a degree is technically unnecessary, it might still be beneficial if you consider just how competitive this career path’s nature has become.
As paralegal positions become increasingly popular, many law firms require graduates with vast knowledge and skill in law. The bachelor’s program will give you an edge over someone with a diploma or certificate in Paralegal education.
It is a real advantage to have a bachelors degree, if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
Another advantage of enrolling in a Paralegal bachelor’s degree program is that you can study other areas of law, such as Immigration Law, Insurance Law, and Intellectual Property Law.
That is not to say that without studying these area of law, you can’t pass your P1 license exam. The license example comprises the following topics:
The Bottom Line
I hope I have done justice to this article about “Who is a Paralegal”? To wrap up, I will leave you with this bonus information: the excellent earnings projections for paralegals in Ontario are a win-win situation for them and those who need their assistance. See also 5 Common Paralegal Interview Questions