Ontario Legal Representation by paralegal vs lawyer representatives.
Paralegal Representative vs Lawyer Representative in Ontario?
The traditional roles of lawyers and paralegals have drastically changed over the last decade or so in Ontario. Long gone are the days where people only think of hiring a lawyer to go to court, and advocate in front of a Judge, or practice law and provide legal services. Those things are not only restricted just to lawyers due to paralegals also having legal licences to provide legal services, albeit for certain courts and tribunals. The Difference between a Paralegal Representative vs Lawyer Representative, as it relates to representing you, the consumer of legal services, is really more about YOUR access to justice.
The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) is the regulatory body for lawyers and paralegals in Ontario, similar to regulatory bodies for doctors and nurses (i.e. The colleges of physicians / nurses). Regulatory bodies for professionals in Ontario exist to protect the public and uphold profession based ethics and standards.
In order to enhance the access to justice to Ontarians, in May 2007 the LSO started licensing and regulating paralegals (like they had been doing with lawyers for years prior) allowing licensed paralegals to provide legal services and give legal advice within a scope of practice, in essentially the same way any lawyer can do., which includes advocating and representing clients in various courts and tribunals.
Lawyers hold an L1 licence with the LSO, and can provide legal services for all legal matters or any court proceeding – whereas, licensed paralegals also hold a legal licence, a P1 licence, which is restricted to representing clients in specific courts / tribunals (scope of practice). However, within that scope of practice, a licensed paralegal can represent you fully, from beginning to end, just as any lawyer can do, as well as provide you with legal advice regarding those matters.
For example, a licensed paralegal can represent you for the entire process of Small Claims Court, various administrative tribunals in both provincial and federal legislation (such as WSIB, Human Rights Tribunal, Landlord Tenant Board, Employment standards, Social Benefits SJTO, WSIB WSIAT, licence appeal tribunal-LAT, are just some examples). Paralegals can also do Reviews of decisions or Orders, and most appeals within their scope of practice (except if the matter is appealed to the divisional court), traffic matters under the Provincial Offences Act, and minor Summary offence charges under the Criminal Code held in the Ontario Court of Justice, where the maximum penalty as elected by the Crown Attorney is no more than 6 months in jail.
Thus, the traditional roles of lawyers and paralegal in Ontario have changed drastically over the last decade or so. The independent licensed paralegal does not have to work for, or under, a lawyer. The function of a licensed paralegal’s legal practice in Ontario is exactly like a lawyer’s practice, just with a restricted licence. A licensed paralegal is also considered a legal practitioner as well and can fully represent you within the scope of practice allowed under the P1 licence.
Also, over the last 5 or so years, the growing trend in the courts / tribunals is to refer to both licensed lawyers and paralegals in a more uniform way: whether lawyers or paralegals, both licensees are referred to, more generally, as “legal representatives” or “representatives”, rather than lawyers or paralegals.
ASK LEGAL is owned and operated by an experienced licensed paralegal practitioner for the last 20+ years, in addition to achieving various legal Certificates in Adjudication and Negotiation, amongst a list of other credentials and certificates in law. The owner has been litigating (sometimes very complex) cases in the Small Claims Court, Landlord Tenant Board, Provincial / Criminal, as well other different Tribunals – and we have seen the profession evolve to its current form, which is promising for the future expansion of legal services and areas in which the scope of practice could be increased, and to provide you, the Consumer, with more access to justice.
An experienced licensed paralegal representative is more than competent to handle any case in the scope of practice, and usually less expensive to hire than a lawyer for the same thing. Paralegals are also are insured and highly regulated in the same Law society as lawyers are.
At the end, what matters is that the public has more access to justice, which are choices and options to hire a licensed paralegal representative, for specific legal matters. It is hoped that the area (scope) of legal services will increase, so that access to legal representation in those areas also increases.
In the meantime, check out the website www.asklehalhelp.ca to see if I could represent you in your legal matters.
Written by: A. S. Kassam as an opinion Blog, (ASK Legal / formerly All Metro Legal) Copyright 2016-2020
Disclaimer: this is a blog written to add content to the website, as an opinion, and does not make any other representations of the accuracy of the opinions written.