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Choosing the Right Legal Professional

Choosing the Right Legal Professional

The Law Society regulates the lawyers and licensed paralegals of Ontario in the public interest by ensuring that they meet appropriate standards of learning, professional competence and professional conduct.

Lawyers are licensed to provide legal advice with respect to all Ontario laws. Paralegals are licensed to provide legal advice on specific Ontario laws. In some situations, either a lawyer or a paralegal would be entitled to help you. In other situations, you must choose a lawyer. You may also choose to represent yourself. The information below will help you understand your options. 

Lawyers

Lawyers' professional qualifications include: 

  • An undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or the equivalent
  • Successful completion of the Law Society's Lawyer Licensing Process including Licensing Examinations,  and Articling Program, including completion of an on-line professional responsibility and practice course. 

When do you need a lawyer?

Lawyers are licensed to provide a full range of legal services that include

  • Family matters, such as divorce, separation and child custody
  • Criminal matters in all levels of court
  • Civil litigation matters in all levels of court
  • Wills, powers of attorney and estate matters
  • Real estate matters, including buying and selling personal or commercial property
  • Administrative law matters, including appearances before tribunals.

Paralegals

Paralegals' qualifications include: 

  • Completion of an approved legal services program in Ontario
  • Successful completion of the Law Society's Paralegal Licensing Process, including Licensing Examinations.  

While lawyers can represent you in all legal matters, paralegals are licensed to provide certain specified legal services

You may choose to have a paralegal represent you in:

  • Small claims court
  • Traffic court for charges under the Provincial Offences Act
  • Tribunals, such as the Landlord and Tenant Board or the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
  • Minor criminal charges under the Criminal Code heard in the Ontario Court of Justice.

Under legislation and by-laws, persons in certain circumstances may provide paralegal services without a licence from the Law Society. Since the Law Society does not regulate these individuals, they are not subject to the rules, by-laws or disciplinary procedures of the Law Society. For more information, please see Exemptions under the Paralegals section of this website.

The Law Society has created Lawyers and Paralegals: Helping You With Your Legal Needs, a brochure to help guide you in choosing a lawyer or paralegal to meet your legal needs.