Frequently asked questions regarding Paralegals
The following information is from the Law Society's website located at:
To answer questions about paralegal regulation, the Law Society has developed a set of frequently asked questions and answers, which is updated regularly as soon as new information becomes available. This Q & A was updated on January 20, 2010.
Please feel free to send any questions you may have to the Law Society at 1-800-668-7380, or 416-947-3315.
Paralegal Questions & Answers
What is the permitted scope of practice for paralegals?
The regulatory scheme set out in the Law Society's By-Law 4
permits paralegals to practise in what were already permitted areas of practice. Subsection 6 (2) authorizes licensed paralegals to represent someone:
in Small Claims Court
in the Ontario Court of Justice under the Provincial Offences Act
on summary conviction offences where the maximum penalty does not exceed six months' imprisonment
before administrative tribunals, including the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.
A person with a paralegal licence can do the following in the course of representing a client in any of the above-mentioned proceedings:
give legal advice concerning legal interests, rights or responsibilities with respect to a proceeding or the subject matter of a proceeding
draft or assist with drafting documents for use in a proceeding
negotiate on behalf of a person who is a party to a proceeding.
As of May 1, 2007, paralegals are not permitted to appear in Family Court.
Other than under the supervision of a lawyer, paralegals may not provide legal services that only a lawyer may provide, such as drafting wills or handling real estate transactions or estates.
Who needs a licence?Anyone in Ontario who provides legal services requires a licence, unless they are exempted under the Law Society Act or a Law Society by-law. Please consult our up-to-date list of exemptions specifying who does not require a licence.A person provides legal services if the person engages in conduct that involves the application of legal principles and judgment with regard to the circumstances or objectives of a person. (s.1(5) of the Law Society Act)
Do immigration consultants require a licence? The Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) is responsible for regulating the activities of immigration consultants who are CSIC members and provide immigration advice for a fee. They do not require a licence under the legislation.
Do collection agencies staff require a licence?Staff of collection agencies, working in the normal course of debt collection, do not need a licence to carry on that work. However, drafting pleadings for a case in Small Claims Court or appearing in Small Claims Court constitutes the provision of legal services and can only be performed by a person licensed by the Law Society, operating through a permitted business structure. Back to top
Do process servers require a licence? People who merely serve documents are not providing legal services. Process servers who serve documents for their employers can continue to do so without obtaining a paralegal licence, as long as they are not making decisions about what documents to serve, how to serve the documents and on whom to serve the documents. People who perform these latter actions are providing legal services and will require a licence.
Do individuals who work for a lawyer require a licence?People whose work is supervised by a lawyer are governed by Rule 5.01 (2) of the lawyers' Rules of Conduct Individuals who prepare documents under the supervision of a lawyer and who are not appearing in front of a court or tribunal do not require a licence. Individuals in this category include law clerks in law firms and independent contractors, such as document preparers and title searchers whose only clients are lawyers. Non-lawyers appearing in court or before a tribunal will need a licence, even if they are supervised by a lawyer, unless they are appearing on behalf of a lawyer on a scheduling or other related routine administrative matter.
May licensed paralegals take affidavits?
The matter of who may take affidavits is not determined by the Law Society. The Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act sets out who may take affidavits.