Paralegals prepare legal documents and conduct research to assist lawyers or other professionals across various industries and government organizations. Paralegals can also be self-employed and provide services to the public as permitted by government legislation.
Independent paralegals can represent clients in small claims and other lower court proceedings, at tribunals and before administrative bodies. They advise clients and take legal action on landlord and tenant matters, traffic violations and other issues within their jurisdictions.
A college diploma, graduate certificate, or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is required to become a paralegal. The Law Society of Ontario regulates and licenses paralegals in Ontario, for example, and you must meet certain academic and field placement requirements in whichever province you choose to work. Paralegals should have strong reading, writing and research skills and have good attention to detail. As they often work with members of the public during stressful times, paralegals should have strong interpersonal and communication skills and work well under pressure.
Much of the work performed as a paralegal will include analyzing case law and legal precedents, editing and drafting legal documents, writing emails and memos, taking trial and meeting notes, organizing client files and using legal research software.
Related job titles include legal assistant, law clerk and paralegal assistant, commercial law clerk, real estate law clerk, notary public, title searcher, corporate paralegal, family law paralegal, independent paralegal, legal researcher, and land titles examiner.
Several factors may lead to greater demand for paralegals over the next decade, including the demand for more affordable legal services. According to federal government research, there were 31,600 people employed in the profession in 2018 and the labour supply and demand for paralegal and related occupations will remain stable in Canada over the next 10 years, with greater need as older workers retire. For paralegal and related jobs, new job openings over the next five years will total 14,200, while 13,600 new job seekers will be available to fill them.
The average salary for a paralegal in Canada is $62,594. The highest paying provinces for paralegals in Canada are British Columbia and Alberta. How much you can earn as a paralegal depends on your experience, geographic location, and the company or firm hiring for the position.