No nonsense results with reliable and affordable access to justice.

phone icon(O) 289-201-1724
fax icon289-201-1721

Why Paralegals?



It’s all about reliable and affordable access to justice. Period.

A very important and interesting fact – as of May 1, 2007, Ontario, Canada is the first and the only jurisdiction in the western hemisphere where paralegals are licensed and the profession is regulated as officers of the court.  What this means is that paralegals, in Ontario, are licensed and regulated the same way as lawyers (i.e., by the Law Society of Upper Canada).  The same cannot be said for the profession of paralegal elsewhere in the world as paralegals in most cases work under the direct supervision of a lawyer.

Access to justice has become a major concern in the courts of Ontario and paralegals are helping to address that concern. Just like their lawyer colleagues, they are skilled, trained professionals, supported by a full regulatory system that includes a code of professional conduct, liability insurance, ethical standards, and an open and transparent disciplinary process.

And importantly, in many cases, they are Ontarians’ first contact with the legal system.

Taken another way, paralegals represent their clients in court going toe-to-toe with fellow paralegals and lawyers, as Defence or Appellant versus Crown Prosecutor and Respondent (depending upon whether one provides legal services in Provincial Offences or Small Claims court for example.  Not to be overlooked but Paralegals perform the same function in tribunals.  Paralegals are not entitled to provide legal services for family law, wills and estates or corporate law and a monetary cap of $25,000.00 is applied and where incarceration is applied, representing a client up to six (6) months imprisonment.

Licensed paralegals, as mentioned above, operate within a defined scope of practice and represent clients in matters such as provincial offences (traffic tickets, etc.), landlord and tenant disputes, labour or employment issues, small claims court matters that are under $25,000.00, immigration (with limitations* unless there is the added professional designation of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) as regulated by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC)), and certain criminal (summary conviction) matters.  In addition, paralegals, by virtue of their office, are designated as Commissioners for Taking Affidavits (swearing oaths).

The Paralegal Difference in Ontario

It is critical that the public has access to affordable legal advice.  There are many who simply cannot afford to pay hourly lawyer rates and litigation can be an expensive and time-consuming mechanism for resolving disputes  whether for a civil proceeding in the Superior Court of Justice or less so at Small Claims Court.  The public needs a financial alternative and one that provides equality in quality of service, competency and professionalism.  Without a financial alternative, more people will choose to represent themselves in court.  This is more times than not a favourable path to follow as self-representation is less effective than being represented by a trained lawyer or paralegal.  A paralegal provides this financial alternative, that is, an hourly rate that is more affordable along with the peace-of-mind of knowing the court processes and rules of procedure.

Essentially there is a triple-play, win-win situation for not only clients but also for lawyers and paralegals:

  1. A client can still be represented by a law firm whereby this firm employs its’ paralegals at paralegal rates to deal with the Small Claims Court cases thereby saving the client money, or
  2. The law firm without paralegals on staff can outsource paralegals (a service that HillCowan provides) and the client still benefits equally as in point 11, and
  3. Via a symbiosis of lawyer-paralegal experience and scope of practice cross-pollination, both lawyers and paralegals are now able to offer existing and prospective clientele a greater depth and breadth of legal services. In this way, the client does not have to run around to different law firms for different legal services but can remain under one legal services roof.  The lawyer-paralegal-client relationship becomes ever stronger for the long-term.

* Paralegals who are licensed by the Law Society can appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to represent a client or clients in an IRB hearing, and can provide legal services to clients for matters relating to an IRB hearing.  Drafting of documents or other legal services practices that are not related to an IRB hearing remain outside of a Paralegal’s scope of practice.  For more information, refer to:


HillCowan Legal Services Professional Corporation is a licensed member
in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada. The Law Society of Upper Canada logo is a trademark owned by The Law Society of Upper Canada.