Do You Want To Become A Paralegal?

Jane Spencer 2016-12-31 19:00:00

The paralegal profession is exciting and competitive, with a huge range of careers and fields from which you can choose. The training you need will vary between companies, but you will need a paralegal diploma from a college accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) and you will need to pass the Law Society’s Paralegal Licensing Exam. This post will cover some basic info on education and training in addition to facts about job prospects, salaries, and more.

📚 What Does a Paralegal Do?

Most paralegals work in government agencies, private firms, or corporate legal offices. They deal with a range of research and administrative duties under attorneys. Some of their daily responsibilities might include the maintenance and organization of legal files, the drafting of documents, the retrieval or delivery of documents from and to the courthouse, and legal research in preparation of court. They may also organize evidence and documents, investigate the background facts of cases, go with lawyers to court, and manage schedules with experts and witnesses.

A paralegal’s specific duties will vary depending on his or her position and employer. Paralegals who work for smaller firms might work cases from beginning to end, while those in a larger firm might handle just one aspect of each case.

📚 Paralegal Careers

Paralegals can, just like lawyers, choose a specialty in a certain type of law. This will have a large part in determining the actual work they will spend a lot of their time doing. For example, immigration paralegals usually work for government organizations but might be employed by a law firm. They retrieve foreign documents, prepare paperwork for deportation and citizenship, research immigration case laws, and handle clients. Criminal paralegals might interview witnesses, prep clients for trial, research legal precedents, and have to have a good knowledge base of criminal legal matters.

📚 Salaries

Paralegals typically work full time and the median wage is around $50,226 per year, with the top 10 percent earning $69,000 or more a year. Paralegals who work for larger firms and in bigger cities usually earn more than those who are employed by smaller firms or in small towns. Those working for the federal government made the most money, followed by finance and insurance, then those employed by local governments. If you want to learn more about the salary for paralegals, visit PayScale for more information.

📚 Become a Paralegal

Ontario is the first province to regulate its paralegals through licensing. In May, 2007, licensure through the Law Society of Upper Canada became a requirement for anyone who wanted to practice independently (without supervision of a lawyer). This allows paralegals to directly represent clients in some matters like at Small Claims Court, the Ontario Court of Justice under the Provincial Offences Act or on summary conviction offences where the max penalty is not more than six months imprisonment, and on administrative tribunals.

To become licensed, paralegals have to:

  • complete an approved course of study, which includes a field placement, at an accredited paralegal education program (this may be a certificate, diploma, or degree);
  • submit a statement of good character;
  • pay a registration fee; and
  • write and pass the Paralegal Licensing Exam.

To maintain licensing, paralegals have to complete 12 hours of Continuing Professional Development each year and pay a renewal fee to the LSUC.

Some paralegals might also choose to add more professional skills to their resumes; for example, many are also trademark agents or notaries public. You can find information on how to get a paralegal diploma at Canadian Business College.

In Ontario, law clerks, legal assistants, and other legal support workers perform duties that would fall under a paralegal’s job description in other areas of Canada. They have to be directly supervised by lawyers and may not work independently. They may not call themselves paralegals.

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