What's a paralegal, anyway? By Dane Appleton

By Whittal & Co.

On 2018-07-10
Category: Law 101

dane.jpg When I tell people what I do for a living, I’m often greeted with the same responses, “a para-what?”, or “do you get to drive an ambulance?” – no, not a paramedic, a paralegal! After many similar encounters, it has occurred to me that it might be a good idea to address the question, ‘what exactly is a paralegal?’

In Ontario, paralegals, like lawyers, are fully licensed and regulated by the Law Society of Ontario. The Law Society of Ontario requires all paralegal candidates to complete a Law Society accredited Ontario College program, pass a rigorous licensing exam, and to fulfill good character requirements in order to become fully licensed. The requirements are stringent because, unlike anywhere else in the world, licensed paralegals in Ontario can represent clients before any tribunal or court of law that is within a paralegal’s scope of practice.

When discussing the advantages of using a paralegal, it’s important to talk about what they can, and cannot do for you. Whether you’re an individual, a small business or a large corporation – a good paralegal should be an integral part of your team. Often, a paralegal can be the most expedient, most affordable option within their areas of practice. Knowing when to call your lawyer, and when to call your paralegal is a key to any successful legal issue!

Simply put, the practice of a paralegal is geared towards the “everyday legal issues” that a person may come across. This includes representation in Small Claims Court, Highway Traffic Court, Administrative Tribunals, or in summary criminal offences. These issues require a significant amount of knowledge and expertise - and they are absolutely areas that a lawyer can address - but often, you may end up paying more for the same result. Additionally, since paralegals operate in a narrower area of practice, they are able to become highly proficient in their areas of law.

It’s simple math – if you have a big traffic ticket, a contract dispute or a headache of a tenant - do you want a paralegal who has dealt with a similar problem hundreds of times, or a lawyer who has handled something like that a dozen times? This is how you make your paralegal relationship work for you.

​And if you’re really lucky, your paralegal and your lawyer work together to provide you with a seamless, comprehensive approach to every possible legal hurdle you might encounter in your personal or professional life. That’s what you get at Whittal + Company – a truly full-service, cost-effective approach to your legal needs.


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