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FAQs

To answer questions about paralegal licensing, 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 October 2018.

Please feel free to send any questions you may have to the Law Society via email, at: lawsociety@lso.ca,or call 1-800-668-7380, or 416-947-3315.

  • Who needs a licence?
    • 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 and /or a $5,000 fine
      • 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.

      Paralegals are not permitted to appear in Family Court and 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 section 30 of By-Law 4.
    • Can paralegals provide legal services related to immigration law?
    • Can paralegals provide legal services related to the Youth Criminal Justice Act?
      The Youth Criminal Justice Act is the law that governs Canada's youth justice system. It came into force on April 1, 2003, completely replacing the previous Young Offenders Act (1984-2003). The YCJA provides the legislative framework for a fairer and more effective youth justice system. While the YCJA applies the Criminal Code to youth criminal justice proceedings, the YCJA is a separate and distinct federal law governing the youth justice system. Paralegals who are licensed by the Law Society cannot represent youth in proceedings under the YCJA. By-Law 4 section 6 2(iii) only provides that paralegals may represent a party before a summary conviction court and only in the case of a proceeding under the Criminal Code. Consequently, the provision of legal services before proceedings in a Youth Justice Court under the YCJA remain outside of a Paralegal’s scope of practice. For additional information, paralegals are encouraged to consult the Law Society’s By-Law 4 section 6 (2) (iii) on this matter.
    • 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.
    • 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 Section 6.1 of the lawyers' Rules of Professional ConductIndividuals 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 per By-Law 7.1. s. 5 (1)(b)

  • Becoming licensed
  • Medical Absence Form
  • Costs
    • What are the application and examination fees?
      Licensing fees are set by Convocation in the annual Law Society budget. Please refer to the Paralegal Licensing Fee Schedule for details.
    • Will any financial assistance be available to offset the costs of writing the exam?

      The Law Society isn't aware of any financial assistance by way of bursaries or government loans/grants available. Applicants may wish to speak to an accountant or tax specialist about their ability to deduct some or all of the fees from their taxes.

      The Paralegal Monthly Payment Plan is available only from April to July of the same Paralegal Licensing Cycle

    • What is the annual fee for a licensed paralegal?
      Annual fees are set by Convocation in the annual Law Society budget. Please refer to Paying Your Fees for details.
    • What are the annual fee categories?

      The annual fee categories for paralegals are the same as they are for lawyers, as set out in Law Society By-Law 5. These three categories are as follows:

      • Paralegal licensees who provide legal services as defined in the Law Society Act, whether they are practitioners or employees, will pay 100 per cent of the annual fee.
      • Paralegal licensees who are working but do not provide legal services will pay 50 per cent of the annual fee.
      • Paralegal licensees who are not providing legal services and do not engage in any remunerative work or are in full-time attendance at a university, college or designated educational institution, or are on maternity or adoption leave, will pay 25 per cent of the annual fee.
  • Governance and Conduct
    • How does the governance structure work?

      Paralegals have a prominent role in their regulation, through the Law Society's Paralegal Standing Committee. The Paralegal Standing Committee considers a wide array of issues such as scope of practice and education. Five members of the 13-member committee, including the chair, are paralegals. The remaining eight comprise five lawyer benchers and three non-lawyer benchers. These 13 members are part of the Law Society's governing body, known as Convocation.

      Currently, two paralegal members of the standing committee have been appointed to Convocation as benchers, giving them a formal role in the regulation of all legal service providers in the province.

    • Are paralegals required to abide by a code of conduct, as lawyers are?
      Yes, paralegals are required to abide by the Paralegal Rules of Conduct. The rules are structured around obligations to various parties, including general duties, as well as duties to clients, tribunals, other licensees and the Law Society. Paralegals can also refer to the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines for assistance in interpreting the Paralegal Rules of Conduct.
    • What are the bookkeeping requirements for a paralegal?
      All paralegal and lawyer licensees are required to keep proper books and records and comply with trust account rules. For paralegals, these requirements will be effective as soon as an applicant becomes licensed.   Resources to assist paralegals in understanding and complying with their bookkeeping obligations are available in the Practice Management Resources page of the Law Society website.
    • What are the insurance requirements for a paralegal?
      • Paralegals who provide legal services to the public must carry professional liability insurance in accordance with By-Law 6, Part II, section 12 (1). 
      • Licensees must provide written proof of their compliance with this requirement to carry mandatory insurance before they begin providing legal services, as well as on an annual basis.
      • The following companies currently offer policies that meet the Law Society's minimum requirements:
      • A.M. Fredericks Underwriting Management Ltd.
      • Berkley Canada
      • Encon Group Inc.
      • Holman Insurance Brokers Ltd
      • Integro Insurance Broker (representing Lloyd's of London)
      • Travelers Guarantee Company of Canada
      • Tripemco Burlington Insurance Group Ltd.
      • This insurance is available through your insurance broker. 
      • The Law Society cannot advise as to the cost of insurance.
      • Important insurance information for paralegals working under the direct supervision of a lawyer.
  • Contact Us
    If you have additional questions about paralegal regulation that aren't answered here, please contact the Law Society at 416-947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380, or send an email to lawsociety@lso.ca