Two ways to earn a living as a legal services provider:
- Get a legal education, write the exam, pay the fees, follow the LSUC rules.
- Just call yourself a “paralegal/legal services provider/law professional,” and start taking in clients.
The Law Society warns the public about unauthorized practitioners. It is illegal for someone to claim to be licensed as a paralegal when they are not. 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.
LSUC notes that an unlicensed provider:
- 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.
People offering services within the scope of practice place the profession at risk. Untrained and uninsured, the unlicensed make us all look bad when they skirt the rules, use the title “paralegal” and take money for services they cannot legally or competently provide.
These fakers cheat paralegals out of fees that licensees could have earned rightfully.
The paralegal scope includes the venues most Ontarians come in contact with, and try to self-represent before — Provincial Offences, small claims court, landlord-tenant. These are the jurisdictions in which the public are most-likely to be taken in by someone pretending to be a paralegal. It is in everyone’s best interests to know whether those claiming to provide legal services are doing so lawfully.
Reporting Unlawful Legal Practice
The LSUC Directory is the first place to check.
The legislation allows people in “excluded” categories to provide certain services, under special conditions. Individuals in those categories have no reason to advertise themselves as paralegals, nor to make their services available to the public.
If you suspect that someone who is not licensed is providing, or advertising, legal services, or calling themselves a paralegal, tell the Law Society.
Reporting Unlawful Immigration Practice
Despite legislation cracking down on crooked consultants, people still advertise their unlawful services.
Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) is the national regulatory authority designated by the government of Canada to safeguard those who seek immigration services.
Immigration consultants who provide Canadian immigration services for a fee, must be registered with the ICCRC and accredited as Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC). ICCRC has a search tool, to check whether services are lawfully provided and insured.