Catherine Hyde

Family Law Clerk

We often receive telephone calls from clients wondering whether we have a paralegal in our family department that can be retained as opposed to a lawyer, as a cheaper option of resolving their family disputes.

The Law Society of Upper Canada began regulating paralegals in May, 2007.  This means that all practicing paralegals (with some limited exceptions) must be licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada.  They are subject to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct set down by the Law Society just as lawyers are subject to Rules of Professional Conduct established by the Law Society.  A Licensed Paralegal will have a P1 license.

There are only certain matters that are within the scope of a paralegal.  These include for example:

  1. Small Claims Court
  2. Provincial Offences Act offences
  3. Highway Traffic Act offences
  4. Tribunals

Family Law is an area in which paralegals are not licensed to practice unless they are under the supervision of a lawyer.  That is, a paralegal is not able to provide legal advice to an individual regarding a family law matter.  A paralegal can provide assistance so long as they are under the supervision of a lawyer.

The issue of whether a paralegal will be able to provide services in family law in the future is currently under review by the Law Society of Upper Canada. 

You should ensure at all times that if you are dealing with a paralegal in a family law matter that they are under the supervision of a lawyer as otherwise they will have no standing with the Court in your matter. 

It is an effective tool for a lawyer to utilize the services of a paralegal or experienced family law clerk to keep costs down and move resolution of the issues forward in a more expeditious fashion.  You can make inquiries when hiring a firm if they have this practice, particularly, where costs are a concern.