On May 1st, 2007, The Law Society of Upper Canada became responsible for regulating the paralegal profession as a result of amendments to the Law Society Act brought about by Bill 14.
The regulatory framework for the profession was successfully established by the 13-member Paralegal Standing Committee, which is made up of five paralegals and eight members of the Law Society's governing board, known as Convocation. Five paralegals were elected to the Committee in a province-wide election in March 2010.
The Committee initiated and instituted the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, as well as a set of criteria and an application process for paralegals already in practice, and for students already studying legal services. The Law Society issued the first paralegal licences in early 2008 to approved applicants who passed the licensing examination.
Anyone in Ontario providing legal services requires a licence, unless the group or individual is not captured by the Law Society Act,or is exempt by a Law Society by-law. The Law Society Act enables the Law Society to make exemptions through by-laws.
Legislation passed by the Government of Ontario, (primarily the Law Society Act and Regulations made under the act) authorize the Law Society to educate and license Ontario's paralegals and regulate their conduct.
Law Society by-laws and Paralegal Rules of Conduct - both based in the Law Society Act - set out professional and ethical obligations. Paralegals failing to meet these obligations are subject to the Society's complaints and discipline process.
If you have questions about paralegal regulation, please contact the Law Society at (416) 947-3315, or 1-800-668-7380, or send an e-mail to email@example.com. You may also wish to consult our comprehensive set of Questions and Answers or check our information brochure.
The Law Society governs legal service providers in the public interest by ensuring that the people of Ontario are served by lawyers and paralegals who meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct.
Anyone in Ontario providing legal services requires a licence, unless the group or individual is not captured by the Law Society Act or is exempt by a Law Society by-law. The Law Society Act enables the Law Society to make exeptions through by-laws. Exemption categories will be reviewed by the Law Society in two years - prior to May 1, 2009.
Groups/Individuals not captured by the Law Society Act (who do not require a licence)
- A person who is acting in the normal course of carrying on a profession or occupation governed by another Act of the Legislature, or an Act of Parliament, that regulates specifically the activities of persons engaged in that profession or occupation.
- An employee or officer of a corporation who selects, drafts, completes or revises a document for the use of the corporation or to which the corporation is a party.
- An individual who is acting on his or her own behalf, whether in relation to a document, a proceeding or otherwise.
- An employee or a volunteer representative of a trade union who is acting on behalf of the union or a member of the union in connection with a grievance, a labour negotiation, an arbitration proceeding or a proceeding before an administrative tribunal.
- A person or a member of a class or persons prescribed by the by-laws, in the circumstances prescribed by the by-laws.
Groups/Individuals exempt by By-law 4 (who do not require a licence)
- Individuals employed by a single employer, such as municipal prosecutor
- Persons who are not in the business of providing legal services and occasionally provide assistance to a friend or relative for no fee
- Articling students
- Employees of legal clinics funded by Legal Aid Ontario
- Employees of organizations similar to legal clinics that provide free services to low-income clients, provided they meet certain criteria as to their non-profit status and funding
- Aboriginal Court Workers
- Staff of the Office of the Worker Adviser
- Staff of the Office of the Employer Adviser
- Constituency Assistants working in MPP offices
- Law students working in student legal aid services' societies, provided they are supervised by a lawyer and covered by the lawyer's insurance
- Injured Workers Outreach Services
- Ontario Federation of Labour staff and consultants representing union members in workers' compensation matters (under the Occupational Disability Response Team), including their work in representing families of deceased workers
- Trade union representatives acting on behalf of retired persons who were formerly members of the trade union and while providing services to another local of the same union
- Union representatives assisting families of deceased workers at Coroners' Inquests
- Members of the following listed voluntary standard-setting associations, subject to certain restrictions: the Human Resources Professions of Ontario; the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals
Paralegals who provide legal services to the public must carry professional liability insurance in accordance with By-law 6, Part II, section 12 (1).
The by-law outlines the minimum requirements for professional liability insurance, as follows:
- Policy limits of $1 million per claim and $2 million in the aggregate are required;
- The coverage must specify the provision of legal services by a paralegal;
- Individual paralegals must be named as an "Insured" on the policy, or by way of endorsement;
- A minimum, non-optional 90-day extended reporting period is required;
- The Law Society should, for the purposes of reporting and cancellation, be added as an "Additional Insured";
- Cancellation notice of 60 days is required;
- 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.
Important information for paralegals working under the direct supervision of a lawyer
The following companies currently offer policies that meet the Law Society's minimum requirements:
A.M. Fredericks Underwriting Management Ltd.
201-339 Westney Road South,
Ajax, Ontario, Canada L1S 7J6
1 First Canadian Place
100 King Street West, Suite 2610
Toronto, ON M5X 1C8
Encon Group Inc.
500-1400 Blair Place
Ottawa, Ontario K1J 9B8
Toll Free: 1-800-267-6684
Holman Insurance Brokers Ltd.
(representing Lloyd's / Complete Equity Markets)
3100 Steeles Ave. East Suite 101,
Markham ON L3R 8T3
Integro Insurance Broker
(representing Lloyd's of London)
199 Bay Street
Commerce Court West, Suite 4800
P.O. Box No. 240
Toronto, Ontario M5L 1E8
(Representing Berkley Canada)
480 University Avenue, Suite 800
Toronto, ON M5G 1V2
Telephone: 416-644-7714 or 1-800-663-6828
Tripemco Burlington Insurance Group Ltd.
(representing ACE/INA and GCAN)
Kahlya Gamble, CAIB
Commercial Lines Account Manager
203-980 Fraser Drive
Burlington, ON L7L 5P5
Telephone: 905-333-3076 x245 or
Marsh Canada Limited
(representing Lloyd's of London)
70 University Avenue, Suite 800
Toronto, ON, M5J 2M4
Insurance is available through your insurance broker.
Please note: the Law Society cannot advise as to the cost of insurance.
Paralegals working under the direct supervision of a lawyer
It is the position of the Law Society that persons providing legal services must carry insurance; however, the Law Society's professional liability insurance program coverage for lawyers covers the professional services of both the lawyer and the persons that the lawyer supervises.
If you are acting under the supervision of a lawyer and providing legal services on behalf of the lawyer/law firm, the lawyer's/firm's professional liability coverage would satisfy the By-Law 6 requirement for mandatory insurance. However, you are not an insured under the policy. The policy only responds to the vicarious liability of the lawyer for your services. No coverage would be provided for your personal defense if you were a defendant in the proceedings and it may be possible for legal proceedings to be brought against you by third parties or the firm itself. Other examples would be if the clients belonged to you rather than the lawyer; and/or you were acting outside of a lawyer's direction; or, you perhaps contracted your services to one or more lawyers/law firms, you would need to need to carry your own professional liability insurance. Contact the Law Society for further clarification.
You may wish to refer to the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 5.01 (Supervision) as well as the LawPRO's Q&A on coverage for more information.
Recent insurance decision from CANLII