If you are studying to become a paralegal, or are about to write your P1 Paralegal Licensing Examination, you may be wondering, “what’s next?” Over the past few years, the LSUC has been gradually expanding the authorized areas of practice for paralegals. The scope of practice for paralegals is outlined in subsection 6(2) of the LSUC’s By-law 4. After passing the P1 Paralegal Licensing Exam, paralegals can represent someone:
1. In Small Claims Court.
Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice that handles civil disputes where the amount claimed does not exceed $25,000. Claims for money owed under an agreement such as unpaid loans or unpaid account for goods or services sold and delivered are often filed in Small Claims Court. Damages claims are also presented in Small Claims Court, which can include property damage, personal injuries or a breach of contract.
2. In the Ontario Court of Justice under the Provincial Offences Act.
The offences covered by the act are generally less serious than criminal offences. Many offences in POA court are Highway Traffic Act matters including: speeding (s. 128(1)), racing, contests, and stunt driving (s.172(1)), Following too closely (s.136(1)), and careless driving (s. 130).
3. On summary conviction offences where the maximum penalty does not exceed six months’ imprisonment.
Summary conviction offences are the least serious offences in the Criminal Code. Causing a disturbance (s. 175), possession of a weapon in public (s. 89), disorderly conduct (s. 173), and public exposure (s. 173(2)) are all summary conviction offences.
A criminal defence paralegal cannot represent clients on indictable offences or super summary offences. With hybrid offences, such as sexual assault, the Crown elects to proceed summarily or by indictment. Paralegals must consult with the Crown early on in the matter to determine how they are proceeding.
4. Before administrative tribunals.
Administrative law is the body of rules and principles that regulate how administrative agencies, boards, and commissions that administer and enforce laws must behave when carrying out their statutory powers. The Ontario Parole and Earned Release Board and Ontario’s Social Benefits Tribunal are two examples of quasi-judicial tribunals. Paralegals can also represent clients in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, which resolves claims of discrimination and harassment under the Human Rights Code.
5. Paralegals are also eligible to perform certain services in immigration law.
Licensed paralegals can appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to represent client(s) in an IRB hearing. Legal services for matters relating to an IRB hearing can also be provided by licensed paralegals.
6. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is another area in which paralegals are authorized to practise.
ADR typically means: negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. Mandatory mediation schemes are being established as a part of the civil litigation process under s. 24.1 and 75.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. In each process, paralegals may represent a client and, in mediation and arbitration, paralegals may act as either a mediator or arbitrator.
7. Licensed paralegals are also permitted to practise landlord and tenant law.
Landlord and tenant law includes elements of contract law (tenancy agreements) and property law. Frequent landlord applications under the Residential Tenancies Act include abandonment (s. 79), wilful or negligent damage (s. 62), overcrowding (s. 67), persistent late pay of rent (s. 58) and interference with reasonable enjoyment (s. 64).
Paralegals are not permitted to appear in Family Court.
Drafting wills, real estate transactions, and estates can only be conducted by paralegals under the supervision of a lawyer.
*If you are looking for more information, the LSUC provides paralegal practice area resources for administrative law, criminal law, and legal research on this page of their website.