There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding what a paralegal is and can do. Here in Ontario, a paralegal is a licensed and regulated member of the Law Society of Ontario (LSO). What this means is that they are vested with the responsibility of providing competent legal services to the public and, therefore, are held to a high standard of professional and ethical conduct. So, if lawyers and paralegals are both members of the law society, what makes a licensed paralegal unique?
In order to become a paralegal in Ontario, you must graduate from an accredited college program in the province, which can be done typically in 1-2 years depending on the program. Before you can graduate, you have to complete a placement where you work directly under the supervision of a lawyer or paralegal who is licensed by the LSO.
Did you know that Ontario is currently the only province in Canada regulating the paralegal profession? This is what distinguishes a paralegal from a licensed paralegal. Once you’ve graduated and completed the placement, the final step to becoming a licensed paralegal is passing the P1 licensing examination. This is a rigorous scenario-based, multiple-choice exam that tests each candidate’s ability to competently apply their knowledge of the law. Exams are hosted by the Law Society of Ontario and are offered in three test windows throughout the year – one in the summer, one in the fall and one in the winter. Once you receive a pass from the LSO, you are successfully licensed! You can now retain clients of your own, join an existing firm, or explore the many in-house and commercial opportunities that require paralegal services.
Pursuing a career as a paralegal can be very rewarding as there are endless possibilities for using your license to make legal services more accessible to all.
Here at the Toronto School of Management (TSoM), our training and educational tools are always at your disposal and do not end at graduation. We will help you prepare for your licensing exam and make sure you begin your career in law with the right skills and support to succeed.