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FAQs

Here you will find frequently asked questions and answers about the Law Society of Ontario's Paralegal Licensing Process. Click on the headings below to reveal the questions and answers. 
 This Q&A was updated in October 2021.

  • 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 authorizes paralegals to represent persons in certain proceedings and to engage in specific activities related to such proceedings. Paralegals are responsible for ensuring they provide legal services only in relation to matters that fall within the permissible scope of practice as outlined in By-Law 4. Accordingly, paralegals should consult By-Law 4 when determining whether they are permitted to take on a client matter.

      Section 6 of By-Law 4 permits licensed paralegals to represent persons in a proceeding or intended proceeding:

      • in the Small Claims Court
      • in the Ontario Court of Justice under the Provincial Offences Act
      • in a summary conviction court under the Criminal Code (Canada)
        • where as of September 18, 2019, an accused was permitted to appear or examine or cross-examine witnesses by agent (a list of these Criminal Code summary conviction offences is available online)
        • in respect of an offence under ss. 320.13(1) (dangerous operation), 320.16(1) (failure to stop after accident), 320.17 (flight from peace officer), or 320.18(1) (operation while prohibited) of the Criminal Code (Canada)
      • before administrative tribunals established under an Act of the Legislature of Ontario or under an Act of Parliament
      • before a person dealing with a Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) claim or a matter related to a SABS claim (excluding a claim of an individual who has or appears to have a catastrophic impairment within the meaning of the SABS), including mediation, evaluation, arbitration, or related proceedings under the Insurance Act

      A licensed paralegal is permitted to engage in the following activities on behalf of clients in relation to a proceeding or intended proceeding described above:
      • give legal advice concerning the client’s legal interests, rights or responsibilities with respect to the proceeding or the client matter that is the subject matter of the proceeding
      • select, draft, complete, or revise a document for use in the proceeding or a document that affects a client’s legal interests, rights, or responsibilities with respect to the proceeding or the client matter that is the subject of a proceeding, or assist another to do any of these things
      • negotiate a client’s legal interests, rights, or responsibilities that relate to the proceeding or the client matter that is the subject of the proceeding, or
      • anything mentioned in s. 1(7) of the Law Society Act, provided the activity is required by the rules of procedure governing the proceeding.
       
      Paralegals are prohibited from providing legal services to persons in relation to family law matters or legal services that only a lawyer may provide, including for example, drafting wills, handling real estate transactions, or advising on corporate matters.
       
    • 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?
    • 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 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 under s. 5(1)(b) of  By-Law 7.1.

  • Becoming licensed
    • When did the Law Society begin issuing licences?
      The Law Society began issuing the first paralegal licences to grandparent applicants who fulfilled all the necessary licensing requirements (including insurance) in April 2008.
    • How do I become a licensed paralegal?

      For information on how to become a licensed paralegal, please visit our Becoming Licensed page.

      New paralegal applicants are not able to provide legal services until they are licensed but are eligible to apply to become licensed as paralegals if they have graduated from a Law Society accredited paralegal education program.

      To date, the Law Society has accredited these college programs.

    • Is there still a good character requirement for new applicants?
      Yes, there is a good character requirement for all those who apply. Please refer to By-Law 4 and the Law Society Act for details.
    • Will my criminal record/bankruptcy/driving infraction prevent me from obtaining a licence?

      Not necessarily. An affirmative answer to any of the good character questions does not necessarily mean that you will be refused admission to the Paralegal Licensing Process. The information provided by you is thoroughly reviewed by the Law Society’s Professional Regulation Department, and before an application for a licence can be refused, the Law Society Act provides you an opportunity to appear before the Hearing Division if required. Please see the Good Character webpage for further information.

    • What types of good character questions do I have to answer on the application?

      To preview the good character questions before you apply online, please see the Good Character Amendment Form on the Fees and Forms, which includes the questions that are asked on the online application.

      If your good character response(s) change after you submit your application, please submit this amendment form outlining the change in your original responses.

    • Which paralegal education programs at post-secondary institutions has the Law Society accredited?
      The list of paralegal education programs at post-secondary institutions that have been accredited by the Law Society is located on the Paralegal Education Program Accreditation page. This list is updated when a new program is accredited. All paralegal applicants who apply for a paralegal licence with the Law Society must have graduated from an accredited paralegal education program in order to be eligible to enter the licensing process. These accredited programs meet the standards and competencies that are required by the Law Society. Colleges interested in obtaining an accreditation package can download it from the Paralegal Education Program Accreditation page. Only colleges on this list will be entitled to state that they have a program that is accredited by the Law Society.
    • What if I attend or have graduated from a non-accredited legal services program that does not meet all the Law Society’s accreditation requirements and I did not apply by June 30, 2010?
    • How do I know if my transcript meets the requirements to enter the paralegal licensing process?

      Upon graduation from an accredited paralegal program, your transcript must show the following:

      1. The completion of the accredited paralegal program,
      2. The completion of a professional responsibility and/or ethics course,
      3. The completion of a minimum of 120 hours of field placement,
      4. The month and year of graduation.
    • Can I apply to the Paralegal Licensing Process at any time?

      Yes, you can apply at anytime, but you will incur a late filing fee if you apply past the application due date.  You must complete and submit parts one and two of the application first. Once your application is processed and verified you will be invoiced for your examination and study materials. Once those are paid and any other necessary documents are received, you are fully registered. Please refer to the Dates to Remember page for information on relevant Paralegal Licensing Process dates and deadlines.

    • Have you received my paper application?

      Once you submit parts one and two of the application, you will receive confirmation of receipt of your application via your Law Society online account.  If you apply by the application deadline, confirmation is typically sent within 30 business days, except during peak periods.

    • Can I drop off my application in person?

      Yes, the Law Society is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Applications should be addressed to the Licensing & Accreditation Department and can be dropped off at the mailroom at the Law Society of Ontario.

    • I am not in Canada. Can I get my Paralegal Licensing Process application and supporting documents certified in the country I am presently in?

      Yes, you may have your application and supporting documents signed/certified in another country if the individual has the authority to certify documents relating to your Licensing Process application. Please see the “Completing the Paralegal Licensing Process Application” section of the website for more information on certifying your documents.

    • Do you accept foreign documents?

      The Law Society’s Licensing and Accreditation Department accepts certain documents issued outside of Canada, namely, certain legal name documents such as marriage certificates issued abroad. We often receive documents that are not in English or French, therefore we ask that documents not issued in English or French be translated by an Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) Certified Translator. Candidates are solely responsible for ensuring the translation is completed by an Ontario ATIO Certified Translator and is sent to Licensing and Accreditation office for review and verification.

      You may wish to refer to ATIO's Directory of Certified Translators on its website at https://atio.on.ca/. Your document(s) will not be reviewed/processed by Licensing and Accreditation unless they are accompanied by a translated document from an ATIO Certified Translator, as well as an affidavit attesting to translation authenticity.

    • Why do you need my full legal name?
    • There is a mistake in my name on my birth certificate/Citizenship card. All my other documents show my name correctly. Why can I not use those other documents?

      The Law Society accepts specific proof of legal name documents in order to register and verify candidates in the Licensing Process and license them.  You can find the list of accepted legal name documents on your application and in the “Completing the Paralegal Licensing Process Application” section of the website.

    • I am not in Canada and I do not have my legal name documents with me. Can I send the application documents later and will I be charged a late filing fee?
    • I have submitted my application. How do I get a Paralegal Licensing Process Photo Identification Card?
      Once you are fully registered in the Paralegal Licensing Process and you have paid for your examination study materials, you will be issued a candidate identification card. You will be notified through your web account on how and when you will receive your identification card.
       
    • When do licensing examination(s) take place?
      Please refer to the Paralegal Licensing Deadlines and Dates page for details. Note that candidates must apply well in advance of these dates in order to be processed, approved and registered for an exam sitting. Candidates must be fully registered and have paid all examination/study material fees no later than the applicable examination registration deadline for a sitting.  In addition, a final official transcript must be filed with the Law Society by that deadline.
    • What is the best way to prepare for the examination?
      All applicants approved to write the examination receive supporting information, including tips and suggestions on how to best prepare for the examination. The sooner applicants learn their materials and familiarize themselves with the information, the better prepared they will be to write the examination. Please refer to the Guide to Licensing Examinations for more information. 
    • What accommodations are available to candidates in the paralegal licensing process?

      Candidates may request accommodation in the lawyer licensing process, or the paralegal licensing process based on a ground listed in the Human Rights Code, R.S.O, 1990, c. H.19. 

      For more information please see Accommodations.

  • Medical Absence Form
  • Costs
  • Governance and Conduct
    • How does the governance structure work?

      The Law Society is governed by a board of directors, who are known as benchers. Benchers gather most months in a meeting called Convocation. Every four years, Ontario’s licensed paralegals elect five paralegal benchers to Convocation. The five elected paralegals are also members of the Law Society's Paralegal Standing Committee, which is responsible for developing policy related to paralegal regulation for Convocation’s approval. A paralegal bencher is the chair of the 13-member Paralegal Standing Committee. The remaining eight members of the Committee comprise five lawyer benchers and three non-lawyer benchers.
       

    • 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 should 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 requirements. 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 Topics 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.

  • 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 licensingprocess@lso.ca 
Terms or Concepts Explained