If you're thinking about becoming a paralegal, you probably have two key questions: what is the job market like and how much money can you expect to earn?
Unlike most regions of Canada, Ontario allows paralegals to become licensed and independently represent clients in certain legal matters.
That opens up a broad range of career opportunities, including starting your own practice.
But before you head down this path, you should know if paralegals are in demand and how much they typically make.
That's what this post is all about. We provide the latest paralegal job outlook and salary information for Ontario.
We also describe different career paths that paralegal program graduates can take in this province.
Here are the facts you need to make an informed decision about your future.
PARALEGAL career OUTLOOK IN ONTARIO
Data from the Labour Market Information Council shows that in the first quarter of 2021, job postings for paralegals in Ontario were up more than 50% over the same period the previous year.
And according to the Government of Canada Job Bank, every region of the province should see steady demand for paralegals over the next few years.
Of the nearly 10,000 paralegals in Ontario, over half work in Toronto.
That's largely because the GTA has a high concentration of corporate headquarters, law firms, courthouses, administrative boards, and tribunals.
In Ottawa, roughly one-third of paralegals work in the public sector. So, being fluent in both English and French can increase your odds of getting hired.
PARALEGAL SALARIES IN ONTARIO
Paralegals in Ontario typically earn more than their peers in many other areas of Canada.
The Job Bank says Ontario paralegals earn a median salary of about $60,000. That's above the national median of $58,000.
The most skilled and experienced paralegals in Ontario make over $105,000—the highest rate among all provinces and territories, according to the Job Bank.
And the top paralegals in Toronto can make as much as $120,000.
Remember: licensed paralegals in Ontario have the option of starting their own legal practice, which can really boost your earning potential.
With a private practice, you set your own hourly rate, take the cases you want, and determine your own work schedule.
CAREER PATHS FOR PARALEGALS IN ONTARIO
With a paralegal diploma in hand, you have many different career options. Here are details on the most common paths:
The public sector is a major employer of paralegals, especially in Ottawa.
You can work for lobby groups, community organizations, courthouses, or government agencies like the Department of Justice.
Paralegals in government jobs typically carry out research, conduct interviews, and prepare and file legal documents.
Depending on their specific role, they might also provide legal aid, perform community outreach, draft regulations, or index evidence.
You could also pursue a role as a paralegal in a corporate legal department.
Potential employers include telecommunications companies, real estate firms, financial organizations, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
In these types of settings, a paralegal's role usually involves keeping meeting minutes, updating files, reviewing documents, and preparing contracts.
You could also be responsible for specialized tasks like researching regulatory requirements, overseeing compliance, creating financial filings, or reviewing licensing agreements.
Private law firms
At a private law firm, your duties will largely depend on the type of law your firm focuses on.
There are many different specializations: immigration, intellectual property, personal injury, litigation, etc.
For example, at a litigation firm, you might help prepare witnesses, draft briefs and motions, take notes at trial, and manage case files.
But at a firm that specializes in personal injury, you would likely focus more on liaising with insurance companies to help your clients get the benefits they're entitled to after a car accident.
If you go through the licensing process of the Law Society of Ontario, you can choose to launch your own paralegal practice.
You can provide legal advice and services in small claims cases, traffic violations, landlord-tenant disputes, and minor criminal offences.
Crown attorney Ilya Medovikov teaches the paralegal program at Herzing College Ottawa. He says certain areas of law prove consistently popular with new grads.
"There is always a steady flow of cases in the area of provincial offences. Small claims is also very popular, as are tribunals, such as the Landlord and Tenant Board. Many of my students are interested in representing tenants or landlords."
INTERESTED IN A CAREER AS A PARALEGAL?
Your first step is to complete a paralegal course that's accredited by the Law Society of Ontario.
Herzing College offers an accredited Paralegal diploma program that's only 12 months long, including a 4-week internship at a local firm.
The training is offered through both the Ottawa and Toronto campuses.
Graduates are fully prepared to sit for the Ontario paralegal licensing exam.
Click below to get more details on the paralegal program or chat live with a knowledgeable Admissions Advisor. We're here to help!