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Paralegal Vs Lawyer: Who Do You Hire In Toronto?

Paralegal vs lawyer

Paralegal vs Lawyer: when you need legal help in Toronto, who do you hire? Should you hire a paralegal, or would you be better off hiring a lawyer? Well, the answer to this age-old question depends on what legal services are needed.

To help you make an informed decision, below is a quick comparison of the differences between paralegals and lawyers in Toronto, Ontario.


Paralegal vs Lawyer: Licensing and Education



Qualifications of a lawyer include a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or an undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LLB), as well as successful completion of the Lawyer licensing process of the Law Society of Ontario (LSO), which includes licensing examinations. Lawyers must also choose between articling or completing the LSO Law Practice Program in other to be eligible for the licensing process. Depending on your educational route, it takes roughly 6 – 8 years to become a licensed lawyer in Ontario.


On the other hand, the qualifications of a paralegal include either a paralegal degree program, a certificate, or a diploma program, typically at an Ontario university or college — the law society must accredit this program. Paralegals in Ontario must also complete the Paralegal licensing process of the law society, with examinations included. It takes roughly 2-3 years to become a licensed paralegal in Ontario.



Area of Practice


Paralegal vs Lawyer: responsibility or area of practice. A paralegal licensed in Ontario can render a complete range of legal services within specific areas of law. Their scope of practice is limited. For example, a paralegal is only allowed to take on cases that are within the following area of law: 


  • Administrative law matters, which include appearances before tribunals and boards
  • Specific summary conviction criminal charges under Criminal Code proceeding in lower courts that are under $5000
  • Small claims court
  • Prosecution of provincial offences under the Provincial Offences Act, such as traffic tickets


In contrast, a licensed Lawyer’s area of practice is not limited. They can choose to specialize in any of the following areas of law:


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


Paralegal vs Lawyer: who to hire?


The choice of who to hire will depend heavily on the subject matter, the severity of the case and the budget.

If the matter is severe and complicated, and the lawsuit exceeds $35,000, then a lawyer will be your only option. 

If it’s a minor small claim, landlord and tenant, or traffic ticket-related matter, and you are tight on budget, then you can hire a paralegal.


Where to hire a Paralegal or Lawyer


Depending on your legal needs, to hire a paralegal or Lawyer, all you have to do is look up the following phrases on either Google or Bing:


  • The legal need + Lawyer + near me, i.e., criminal Lawyer near me or
  • The legal need + Paralegal + near me, i.e., small claims Paralegal near me


Alternatively, word-of-mouth referrals are also an effective way of finding professional Lawyers and Paralegals. 

You may also find a lawyer or Paralegal on the Law Society of Ontario’s website. We have an article dedicated to how to hire a qualified paralegal in Toronto. The process listed therein may also be used to find a qualified lawyer.


Final thought


I believe, at this point, you know not only what it takes to be a Lawyer or a Paralegal, the scope of practice of both professionals and their significant differences. Thus, Paralegal vs Lawyer: who should you hire in Toronto varies from individual to individual — it is subjective.

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