Q: What is a paralegal? Are you sure I don’t need a lawyer?
A: In Ontario, paralegals are licensed officers of the court, similar to lawyers, and are licensed by the same governing body: the Law Society of Ontario.
Paralegals can provide legal services including providing advice and representations, but we cannot appear at every level of court or provide legal services in every area of law.
For example, a lawyer can appear in the Superior Court of Justice or the Supreme Court of Canada, while a paralegal cannot.
However, the jurisdiction of paralegals is vast and always changing. Paralegals can represent clients in the Small Claims Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice for certain matters including Provincial Offences and traffic tickets, and administrative tribunals such as the Landlord and Tenant Board, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal, Social Benefits Tribunal, and many others.
A full list of services Kent Paralegal Services provides, can be located here.
Q: What is a “conflict check” and why do you need to do one before you can give me advice?
A: Paralegals have a professional duty to avoid conflicts of interest. Before we can give you advice on your matter or take any confidential information from you, we are required to verify the names of all parties involved in your matter to ensure there is no conflict.
For example, if we have represented the opposing party in a different matter in the past, we still have a duty to protect the confidentiality of our past client and could not oppose them in your matter.
When you call our offices, we will ask you for the name of all parties involved in complete a conflict check. The conflict check is completely confidential and the information you provide at that time will not be used for any other purpose other then a conflict check.
Once the conflict check comes back with no results, we will call you back on the same date to schedule your initial consultation with one of our paralegals!
Q: What should I be prepared to discuss during our initial consultation?
A: Our paralegals will ask you to tell your story from the beginning to present. Sometimes it may help if you spend some time before your consultation organizing a timeline of events and a list of questions you would like answers to. A timeline of events will be helpful in determining if you have a limitation period approaching or a deadline to file or serve documents to the other side.
You will also want to gather and provide documents to the paralegal prior to the consultation. A list of potential documents will be sent to you by one of our staff when confirming your initial consultation. If you do not have these documents right away, not to worry, we will still proceed with your consulation and make note to request them from you again at a later date.
If you are not sure if something is relevant, it is worth telling/showing to the paralegal in order for her to best evaluate your circumstances and determine the next steps.
You should also be prepared to discuss fees. We usually require a monetary retainer to begin working for you right away.
Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, and for accessibility for our potential clients, all initial consultations at Kent Paralegal Services are being conducted virtually over the Zoom platform. If you require accommodations or an in person consultation, please make your request known to our staff during booking.
Q: Can you help me with a will, divorce, separation agreement, custody agreement, or FRO matter?
A: Unfortunately not. While the jurisdiction for paralegals in these areas of law is set to change, currently paralegals in Ontario are not licensed to provide legal services in family law or estate litigation. Even if your divorce or will is uncontested, you will need a lawyer. Our firm would be happy to provide a referral to a lawyer in your area who can help you with your family law matter.
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