Paralegals are a relatively new phenomenon in Ontario. We recently became recognized as “Officers of the Court” meaning that we are held to the same standard lawyers are held at. While paralegals do have a limited scope of practice, we are expected to excel at the areas we practise in. Paralegals are an essential component of providing affordable legal services to the public. We are not “law clerks” as they are not authorized to provide legal services and must work under a licensee. Paralegals have the autonomy to practise on their own in their respective fields of practise. All practising paralegals must have a p1 class license.
Authority and Responsibility
Paralegals have been authorized in the Law Society Act to provide legal services. We are required to fulfill stringent obligations and maintain strict regulatory requirements as we practise. Every year we are required to fulfill a certain number of continuing professional development hours as mandated by the Law Society. The Law Society was formerly known as the Law Society of Upper Canada but has had their name changed to the Law Society of Ontario . Paralegals have the authority to practice on their own and can represent their clients in certain situations. This topic will be touched upon in greater depth below.
Where do Paralegals Work?
Paralegals can work as law clerks, alongside lawyers or even independently through their own practice. Independently, we are permitted to as a sole proprietorship, as a partnership, and a professional corporation.