We get a ton of questions about the difference between the services that a paralegal versus a lawyer can provide. To answer your questions, we are thrilled to bring you a guest post from Paralegal Karim Bhaloo of KB Legal Services. You can find out more about Karim here.
Welcome and thanks for the contribution Karim. Take it away!
In Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) is the regulatory body for both lawyers and licensed paralegals. A regulatory body, whether it’s the LSUC or the ones that regulate other professions (such as healthcare and accounting), exists to protect the public from the profession it regulates by making sure that members of the profession meet the appropriate standards, are competent and conduct themselves in a manner that is both ethical and professional.
One of the major differences between a paralegal and a lawyer is that lawyers are licensed to provide legal advice with respect to ALL Ontario laws while paralegals are licensed to provide legal advice with respect to SPECIFIC Ontario laws. In certain situations, either legal professional would be able to assist you but you can always choose to represent yourself.
In Ontario, in order for an individual to provide legal services as a paralegal he or she must complete an approved legal services program and must successfully complete and pass the licensing examination administered by the LSUC.
Paralegals can represent you in matters before the Small Claims Court, various tribunals created by the provincial and federal legislation (WSIB, Human Rights Tribunal, Landlord Tenant Board, and FSCO for example), help resolve issues by ADR methods, represent members of a regulated profession before their College, assist with appeals (except if the matter is appealed to the divisional court), traffic matters under the Provincial Offences Act, and minor charges under the Criminal Code held in the Ontario Court of Justice.
In order for an individual to practice law in Ontario, he or she must obtain an undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) or an equivalent, successfully complete and pass the licensing process and examination administered by the LSUC including an articling program and an online professional responsibility and practice course.
A lawyer can represent you in criminal and civil litigation matters in ALL levels of court, family matters (divorce and custody), participate in ADR process, prepare wills and power of attorney, assist in real estate and administrative law matters.
Karim Bhaloo, BSc, MLT is a paralegal and Principal at KB Legal Services, a firm specializing in representing self-regulated professionals and citizens of Ontario at various tribunals. In his practice, Karim help individuals navigate the legal system resulting in peace of mind, and hopefully a quick resolution, by providing cost-effective, affordable and bespoke legal services. Learn more about Karim, or book an appointment with Karim on Kabuk, here.