Updated December, 2020.
Paralegals enjoy a wide range of job opportunities in Ontario. Ontario is one of the only provinces in Canada where licensed paralegals can represent clients in court for certain legal matters.
This opens up a lot of different career paths in both the private and public sector. Plus, a skilled paralegal can also work as a law clerk or legal assistant, with options to specialize in many different areas of law.
Considering a legal career and want to know more about paralegal job opportunities?
Take a tour of the possibilities. From legal aid to corporate legal departments; NGOs to private law firms; and even starting your own paralegal practice. The sky’s the limit for skilled graduates. Here’s a look at some great options.
Start or Join a Private Paralegal Practice
If you want to start or join a private paralegal practice after college, you’ll need to complete the Ontario paralegal licensing exam. Once licensed, you can represent clients independently in certain legal matters—like small claims court, traffic violations, minor criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, etc.
See more detailed examples: Small Claims Cases You Can Handle as a Licensed Paralegal
The main benefit in getting licensed is being able to serve clients directly. You can build your practice, specialize in an area of law that really interests you, and set your own billing rate.
This path is perfect for paralegal graduates with an entrepreneurial spirit. Want to be your own boss, represent clients in court, and determine your own earning potential? This is your best paralegal job option!
Work as a Legal Assistant or Law Clerk
Don’t want to get your paralegal license and enter private practice? You can become a legal assistant or law clerk instead. A quality paralegal program prepares students for a variety of legal jobs - including administrative roles.
Legal assistants and law clerks work at private law firms, corporate legal departments, and courthouses. There are many areas of specialization to choose from—personal injury, intellectual property, litigation, family and commercial law, just to name a few.
The type of work you do will depend on where you work. For example, if you’re assisting lawyers who specialize in intellectual property, you’ll be doing tasks like:
☑️ Reviewing approval notices for trademarks
☑️ Checking documents for errors and missing information
☑️ Drafting correspondence to send to the trademark office
☑️ Reporting to clients on the status of their trademark(s)
☑️ Examining registration fee notices and the payment of registration fees
☑️ Generating bills and sending out client invoices
On the other hand, if you’re working for a litigation team, you will spend more time doing tasks like:
☑️ Case research
☑️ Taking notes at trial
☑️ Helping with depositions and discovery
One of our recent paralegal graduates, Sadique Alexander, decided to work in personal injury. He completed his internship at Diamond & Diamond Lawyers LLP, a Toronto law firm that specializes in this are of law.
“During my internship, I had to complete FSCO forms, contact clients, schedule appointments and liaise with insurance companies to get client benefits paid after their motor vehicle accidents.
I was offered a permanent position at Diamond & Diamond Lawyers LLP one week before the completion of my internship.
I accepted the position and joined the accident benefits department of the firm, working exclusively in the area of personal injury.”
As a legal assistant or law clerk, you won’t be representing clients directly, but you will play a key role in the legal process. No busy law firm or corporate legal department could function without a solid administrative support team.
What general duties can you expect to perform as a legal assistant? Typical responsibilities include:
☑️ Booking meetings
☑️ Handling client phone calls and emails
☑️ Preparing legal documents
☑️ Doing research
☑️ Managing files for the lawyer
☑️ Witnessing documents
☑️ Assisting at court
☑️ Client billing
Government Paralegal Jobs
Interested in public service and the long-term stability of government jobs? You could seek out a paralegal or legal assistant job at the municipal, provincial, or federal level.
These roles usually involve tasks like conducting research, preparing and filing legal documents, and conducting interviews. However, depending on where you work in government, you may perform additional duties, such as providing legal aid, community outreach, and obtaining and indexing evidence.
Paralegal job options in government include:
☑️ Community-based organizations
☑️ Lobby groups
☑️ Provincial and federal departments (such as the Department of Justice)
☑️ Legal aid services
Drawn to a career in activism?
Legal assistants and paralegals can also work for humanitarian organizations that protect the rights of vulnerable populations—including women, children, the LGBTQ community, refugees, victims of war, and many others (including environmental protection groups).
Sometimes, non-profit and non-government organizations offer job postings abroad. If you’re also interested in travel, this could be an ideal option.
Become a Paralegal program instructor
After you gain some experience in the field, you might consider transitioning to a teaching role. Licensed paralegals can pursue instructor jobs at private Ontario paralegal colleges.
If you’ve worked primarily as a legal assistant, you could qualify to teach law clerk diploma programs. At Herzing, our legal instructors typically have at least 10 years of professional experience. In many cases, they’ve worked in a few different areas of law, and in a variety of different legal settings.
You’ll need a good breadth of experience before applying to teaching roles, so you can better prepare students for the real world of paralegal or legal assistant work.
This career path is ideal for people with excellent communication skills and a genuine passion for coaching, supporting, and mentoring future legal professionals.
Getting started with paralegal training
Interested in learning about other paralegal job opportunities? Ready to explore paralegal training options?
Your first step is to speak with an Admissions Advisor. A good Advisor will guide you through application requirements, the Ontario paralegal licensing process, and career paths.
You can usually complete a paralegal program in 2 years, although some colleges offer accelerated programs. At Herzing College Ottawa, our Paralegal program is 12 months, including a 4-week internship.
One-year programs are intensive, but they allow students to graduate and get to work faster. Many of our students have been able to work part-time while completing the 12-month course. It all depends on your priorities and preferences.
An Advisor can walk you through the course schedule, and help you define a training plan that works for you.
Get started today by clicking below. Browse Herzing’s 12-month paralegal training, look at job opportunities, or chat live with an Advisor. We’re here to help!