Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's a paralegal?

Hi! My name is Sloan Smith and I’m training at college to be a licensed paralegal. 

A lot of people I meet don’t know what a paralegal is.  Let me take a minute to explain because it’s really quite cool what I’ll be doing once I graduate.

I will offer independent legal services to the public.  As of 2007, paralegals are required to be licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada, just like lawyers are!  But there are certain areas of law I won’t be able to work in – like real estate, serious criminal and family law.  For those areas, a lawyer is necessary.
Anyways, there are many areas of law I can practice in, like
  • Small Claims Court (sometimes similar to the kinds of cases you see in Judge Judy’s show on TV!)
  • The Ontario Court of Justice under the Provincial Offences Act (for speeding ticket or parking ticket offences)
  • Criminal offences (called summary conviction offences) where the maximum penalty does not exceed 6 months jail
When I graduate this spring, maybe I’ll get a job in a law firm.
Or maybe I’ll work in a courtroom.
Or a government office.
Or a legal clinic.
Or eventually, maybe I’ll open up my own practice called SLOAN Paralegal Inc.!

So I know you’re asking yourself, “When should someone hire a paralegal?” 

The answer: 1) When the legal issue you have is relatively simple and 2) when the cost of hiring a lawyer is too expensive.

When I earn my diploma and pass my licensing exam, I’ll be ready to help people through legal representation.  I know it’s going to be a great and challenging career and who knows, maybe you or someone you know may need a paralegal’s services one day.

Okay, well I have to hit the books so see you around! 
Sloan Smith

To learn more about paralegal practice and licensing, check out the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) FAQs on Paralegals.  LSUC is the body that regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario.

Scarlett (Sloan) Smith is a member of JFCY's PLE Team, and a student in an accredited Ontario paralegal training program.

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