Seeking legal help? Protect yourself.

Use a licensed legal professional.

You should know that an unlicensed person: 

  • may not be properly trained to provide legal services
  • is not required to follow a code of professional conduct or to answer to a regulator
  • does not have to carry insurance for negligence and is not backed by a compensation fund.  This means if they make a mistake there may be no compensation for any damages you suffered as a result and if they take your money and provide no services in exchange, you may not get your money back.

If you hire a person who is not licensed, you have no protection.

Find out if the person you are thinking of hiring is licensed.

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Check our online lawyer and paralegal directory. Or you can call the Law Society at 416-947-3300 or toll free at 1-800-668-7380. We also post a list of people who have been found by the Court to be illegal practitioners.

If you suspect that someone you are dealing with as lawyer or paralegal is not licensed to do this type of work, tell the Law Society.

More information: 
Planning to practise law or provide legal services in Ontario?

Why use a licensed professional?
What things can a licensed lawyer or paralegal do?

Planning to practise law or provide legal services directly to the public in Ontario?  
In general, you must have a licence from the Law Society of Upper Canada.  If you’re unsure, contact the Law Society for further information.

Practising law or providing legal services directly to the public without a licence is illegalIt is also illegal for someone to claim to be licensed as a paralegal when they are not. It is illegal for someone to pretend to be a lawyer when they are not.  And it is illegal for someone to tell people that they can provide a legal service, legal advice or legal representation that they are not licensed to provide.  

The Law Society Act grants the Law Society enforcement powers to ensure that the public is protected from unlicensed practitioners. Where warranted, the Law Society may pursue:  

  • Injunctions
  • Contempt proceedings
  • Prosecutions

 

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Why use a licensed professional?
Licensed lawyers and paralegals are fully qualified and trained legal professionals. If you have a problem with a licensed lawyer or paralegal, you can complain to the Law Society.  The Law Society reviews all complaints it receives. Where appropriate, it disciplines the lawyer or paralegal.    

If you lose money due to a licensed lawyer’s or paralegal’s dishonesty, you can apply to the Law Society’s compensation fund, which can help get at least some of your money back. Licensed lawyers and paralegals also have insurance, in case they make a mistake.  

The Law Society can help you find a licensed legal professional.

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What things can a licensed lawyer or paralegal do?  

  • Represent clients at court or at a tribunal. A licensed lawyer or paralegal can represent someone at, or give legal advice about, a court or tribunal proceeding.  A licensed lawyer or paralegal can help with forms or documents (e.g., statements of claim, or statements of defence) that are related to a court and tribunal proceeding.
  • Provide services or advice requiring the use of legal principles or legal judgement.  A lawyer or licensed paralegal can give advice about legal rights or responsibilities.  For example, a licensed lawyer or paralegal can give legal advice about a traffic offence or small claims court. This applies even if there is no law suit or other proceeding. 
  • Only a lawyer can prepare or help prepare legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, custody or settlement agreements that pertain to family or matrimonial law.

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