How do I find a lawyer or paralegal to help with my legal problem?
You don't always have to hire a lawyer or paralegal to help with your legal problem. But a lawyer or paralegal can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and the options you have.
Lawyers can give legal advice. This means they can explain what the law says and how it applies to your situation. They can also:
- tell you the legal rules you must follow
- explain the options you have for resolving your problem
- prepare the documents you need for court or a tribunal hearing
- negotiate for you
- represent you at court or a tribunal hearing
Make sure you talk to a lawyer with experience in the legal area you need help with. Some lawyers only deal with specific areas of law.
If you have a low income, you may be able to get help from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). This may include getting a legal aid certificate if you meet LAO's financial eligibility rules and your legal issue is one that LAO covers.
A paralegal is another kind of legal professional that can give legal advice in certain areas. A paralegal can work for a lawyer and be supervised by them. Or, they can work for themselves.
Depending on your legal problem, hiring a paralegal can cost less than a lawyer. But a paralegal is not allowed to work in all the legal areas that a lawyer can.
A paralegal can represent you in:
- Small Claims Court
- provincial court for traffic offences and other provincial offences
- some criminal law issues at the Ontario Court of Justice dealing with summary offences like causing a disturbance in a public place and harassing phone calls
- hearings about refugee claims at the Immigration and Refugee Board
- other tribunals like the Landlord Tenant Board and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
A paralegal cannot:
- help with family law issues
- help with serious criminal law issues
- help with immigration or refugee issues outside the refugee hearing process
- draft a will or power of attorney
- handle legal aspects of selling or buying real estate
- help with tax matters
- represent you in Federal Court
- represent you in civil matters at the Superior Court
Rules for Lawyers and Paralegals
The Law Society of Ontario regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. This means they: