Whom do I need for my legal matter, a licensed paralegal or lawyer?
Guidelines in choosing paralegal
- Ask them how much they charge, either per hour or per case.
- Book a time to meet with them.
- Ask them about their experience with your type of case.
- Ask them to estimate how much their services cost for handling your case.
- Ask whether you are billed every month or at the end of your case.
- Ask if you have to pay for anything else above and beyond their fees.
Both lawyers and paralegals in Ontario are licensed, insured and qualified to help you with your legal needs. Either a lawyer or a paralegal can provide some legal services. In some cases, you must hire a lawyer to represent yourself.
Difference between Paralegal and lawyer
- Licensed Paralegals can represent you in the following types of matters:
- Litigation in Small Claims Court
- Traffic and other offenses heard in Provincial Offences Court
- Hearings before tribunals (e.g., the Workplace Safety. Also, the Insurance or the Landlord and Tenant Board)
Minor criminal charges (Criminal Code heard in the Ontario Court of Justice)
Lawyers could help you with all types of legal services like the ones listed below:
- Family Law – such as separation agreements, divorce, and child custody.
- Criminal Law – at all levels of court
- Civil litigation – at all levels of court
- Wills, powers of attorney and estate
- Real estate closings – buying and selling residential or commercial property
- Administrative law – including hearings before tribunals
Whom can I consult if I want to file for a divorce?
You need to consult a lawyer for all matters relating to family law so that you are fully aware of your rights and obligations. A lawyer guides you through the process and prepares all the essential documents, such as separation agreements and contested or uncontested divorces. Your lawyer works with you on child custody, child access, as well as spousal and child support, and the division of property.
Paralegals are not permitted to give advice about family matters or represent anyone in Family Court.
If I can’t use a paralegal in Family Court, and can’t afford a lawyer, what am I supposed to do?
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may get free assistance from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). For more Information about legal aid, visit www.legalaid.on.ca. As well, Family Law Information Centres are located in every family court location, and provide free information and help about issues related to separation and divorce and other family law matters.
If you don’t qualify for legal aid, you may be able to obtain help from duty counsel – lawyers assigned to assist in the courtroom to people who need it. In family courts, duty counsel can prepare and review documents, give advice, represent people on their motions and hearings, and assist with settlement negotiations.
TRAFFIC TICKETS, SMALL CLAIMS, AND CRIMINAL CHARGES
The traffic ticket has been issued to me, who can I seek assistance, paralegal or a lawyer?
A lawyer or a paralegal can represent you in the Ontario Court of Justice, under the Provincial Offences Act for charges like speeding or trespassing. They can also represent you in matters related to:
- Liquor Licence Act
- Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act
- Liquor Licence Act
- Environmental Protection Act
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Blind Persons Rights Act
- Municipal by-laws
Who can represent me if I am charged with a criminal offense, is it a lawyer or a paralegal?
Paralegals can represent you in the Ontario Court of Justice if you are charged with a minor criminal offense, as long as the maximum term of imprisonment for the offense is not more than six months. Examples of this type of offense include disturbing phone calls. They also include theft under $5,000, and assault and mischief to private property, if the Crown Attorney elects to proceed by way of summary conviction, which is a less severe method of proceeding. Lawyers can represent you on any criminal case and must represent you if the offense has a maximum penalty of more than six months’ imprisonment.
I can’t afford a lawyer to represent me on a criminal charge, where can I ask for help?
You could get free assistance from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) if you cannot afford a lawyer. There is an income bracket for you to qualify for the legal aid.
For more information about legal aid, visit the LAO website at www.legalaid.on.ca.
If you do not qualify for legal aid, you may be able to obtain assistance from duty counsel – lawyers assigned to criminal courts to help people who do not have their lawyer. Duty counsel can assist you to ask for bail or seek an adjournment. They can also advise you about the process and about pleading guilty or not guilty.
Worried about legal fees for your matter?
You may be represented by a licensed paralegal for your legal concerns. Call us at 1-855-522-5290 during office hours or leave us a message here on Facebook. You may also send us a text message at 647-367-1634.