Paralegals and Lawyers in Canada: What is the distinction?

Lawyer and paralegals are both legally trained professionals that offer legal services but with different range of expertise. A paralegal is trained with the knowledge and understanding of the law and can offer a limited scope of legal work, usually under a lawyer’s supervision. Paralegals are actually a cheaper alternative to a lawyer, though the areas and responsibilities in which a paralegal work are much more limited and usually depends on their jurisdiction. A paralegal can represent you in small claims court, traffic court, or tribunals such as landlord and tenant board and Workplace Safety Insurance Board. They can also act as a counsel for Immigration Refugee Board tribunals.

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Paralegal and Lawyer - What is the distinction

Do you need help in minor criminal offenses?

In Ontario, a paralegal can represent you for minor criminal offenses such as the following:

  • Impaired driving/ dangerous driving
  • Fail/Refuse to Provide a Breath Sample
  • Shoplifting
  • Assault
  • Criminal harassment
  • Any other crime with a sentence of fewer than six months

Paralegal must work under the supervision of a lawyer

In most provinces in Canada, paralegals must work under the supervision of a lawyer, but in 2006, Ontario became the first province to allow paralegals to work independently, regulated under the Law Society of Upper Canada. However, paralegals cannot help in the drafting of wills. A paralegal completes a few years of college and doesn’t attend a law school or receive a degree in law.

On the other hand, a lawyer is a legally trained professional that has gone to school to study law and has received a law degree. A lawyer typically has at least seven years of education, four years doing an undergraduate and three years of law school. Most law schools require aspiring lawyers to write the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and have a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree before passing the Barrister Licensing Examination (known popularly as the bar exam) and the Solicitor Licensing Examination in order to become a full-fledged lawyer. Lawyers represent clients and current proof for their defense in civil or criminal trials. They also inform their clients about their legal rights or responsibilities and advise them according to their legal conditions on the best way to precede them. A lawyer performs legal research and is capable of interpreting legislation, regulations, and rulings. They draw up legal documents such as wills, deeds, agreements, lawsuits and appeals, and may also supervise paralegals or legal assistants.


Lawyers are eligible to represent clients in all aspects of law including:

    • Family law (divorce, separation agreement, child custody disputes)
    • Immigration law (citizenship, family sponsorship, PR, working visa, student visa, etc)
    • Estate law (wills, power of attorney, asset liquidation)
    • Real Estate law (purchase and selling of private and commercial properties)
    • Criminal law (all types of offences in all categories of severity)
    • Civil law (litigation, property damage, etc)
    • Administrative law (legal paperwork, government law)

    Which one is right for me?

    The differences between lawyers and paralegals in Canada is mainly defined by the different types of legal issues that needs to be dealt with. Although a paralegal and a lawyer have different scope of legal work, they both work towards the same goal – to provide the best legal service for their clients and make sure that justice has been served. Here at JCA Law Office we have a great team of legal professionals including paralegals and lawyers who can help you in your legal matter. For further information, you may call us at 1-855-522-5290 or email us at info@filipinolawyer.ca.

    Which one is right for me - paralegal lawyer
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