Monday, January 21, 2013

Scope of paralegal practice in Ontario

The regulatory scheme set out in the Law Society's By-Law 4 permits paralegals in Ontario 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 no tprovide legal services that only a lawyer may provide, such as drafting wills or handling real estate transactions or estates. People whose work is supervised by a lawyer are governed by Rule 5.01(2) of the lawyers' Rules of Professional 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 require 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. By-Law 7.1.s.5 (1) (b). This last point is quite important and authorizes lawyers to use paralegals quite broadly for scheduling.


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