Paralegals are sometimes the unsung heroes of law firms who can help clients with a variety of legal needs. They perform certain legal functions and tasks on their own or under the supervision of a lawyer, and can help people obtain access to justice when they might not otherwise be able to afford it.
Under the supervision of a lawyer, paralegals often prepare wills, real estate transactions and other legal documents, court reports and affidavits. They research records, court files and precedents as well as draft legal correspondence and perform general office and clerical duties.
Paralegal typically work at a law firm or legal clinic assisting lawyers in preparing for deals and cases as well as a range of matters in family law, for intellectual property matters, criminal proceedings and other areas of litigation and corporate proceedings. They may also work for record search companies or in large private sector companies supporting legal and municipal departments. In some cases, paralegals can also work independently and specialize in a specific area of the law, such as in real estate, landlord and tenant or immigration law, and represent clients in small claims court, traffic court, tribunals and even some criminal matters.
In 2018 there were about 31,600 paralegals in Canada and the median age was 42 years’ old. For the period 2019-2028, new job openings (arising from increased demand and replacement demand) are expected to total 14,200, while 13,600 new job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) are expected to be available to fill those positions.
In this Career Guide, we will outline some of the training and career options for paralegals and detail the factors you need to consider when attempting to match your personal values and professional interests to this in-demand profession in Canada.