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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 September 2019.

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 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) in respect of
        • an offence 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
        • 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 of 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 services 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.
    • 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 of 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 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 submit an application to enter the Paralegal Licensing Process after the annual application deadline?
      Yes, however, applications submitted after 5:00 p.m. (EST) on the application deadline, are considered late applications and a late application fee of $75 (plus tax) will apply.  Applicants must ensure all documents and fees are submitted well in advance of the 30 business day deadline for a scheduled Paralegal Licensing Process Examination in order to be considered registered.
    • What does the licensing examination entail?
      The open-book Licensing Examination is comprised of approximately 240 multiple-choice questions and is divided into two sessions: Part 1 (morning) and Part 2 (afternoon). Each session is 3.5 hours. Starting with the August 2015 administration of the paralegal licensing exam, candidates will be tested on substantive and procedural law concepts as well as professional responsibility, ethics and practice management areas.
    • When do licensing examination(s) take place?
      Please refer to the Paralegal Licensing Examination Dates and Locations 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 at least 30 business days prior to 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 Paralegal Licensing Examination Guide 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 condition that arises from an enumerated ground listed in the Human Rights Code, R.S.O, 1990, c. H.19. 

      For more information please see Accommodations.

  • 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 from April to July and again from October to January of the same Paralegal Licensing Cycle

    • Can I give my credit card over the telephone or send it by fax to pay for my Licensing Process fees?
      No, you cannot provide credit card information by telephone, nor should you fax, scan or email the information. You may pay online through your online web account prior to the deadline or pay in person at the Client Service Centre of the Law Society. As of October 2019, the Law Society will no longer be permitted to accept credit card information over the phone, by fax or email.
       
    • 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?

      The Law Society of Ontario 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.
      • 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