The term paralegal describes an entry level position in the field of law. Paralegals work for individual lawyers, for multiple lawyers as part of law firms, for specific businesses and government agencies and independently. Paralegals are essential employees at any law practice or legal department. They complete research and carry out clerical work in support of lawyers, helping them draft important documents and prepare for court. The support of a paralegal affords lawyers more time to focus on the more complicated aspects of a particular case or task.
Paralegal Job Description
In Ontario, paralegals are allowed to offer legal advice to clients and appear before smaller courts such as small claims court, provided they pass a licencing exam called the Paralegal Licencing Process, which is conducted by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO). They must also pay for liability insurance once licensed. Unlicensed paralegals do not need to pay for insurance. The responsibilities of a paralegal may include:
• Preparation of legal documents (wills, real estate transactions, etc)
• Reviewing legal documents
• Research on behalf of lawyers
• Performing witness, client and other interviews
• Providing some legal services and offering legal advice to the public
Paralegal Projected Demand
As regulations concerning legal work change and the economy improves overall, the demand for paralegals is on the rise. Also, retirement and paralegals completing the bar exam (and becoming lawyers or working elsewhere in the law field) are creating new entry level positions for trained workers. The average annual salary for paralegals in Canada is $49,472. Bonuses and profit sharing are a possibility in some workplaces in the legal industry.