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Ontario Paralegal - Career path or waste of time?

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1 hour ago, OWH said:

If the family law bar wants to retain the ability to be the exclusive provider of family law services it needs to come up with better arguments and a solution to the issue of unrepresented litigants. Without doing so their complaints just sound self serving. 

I don't know the accuracy of the statistics, however there is a very high percentage of family law litigants that are self represented.  Lawyers can't honestly argue that having no representation is preferable to having some representation, even if it is inferior to the representation that would be provided by a lawyer. 

I would agree with @Hegdis - inadequate representation can do a lot more damage than no representation. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. 

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My experience with paralegals in small claims is that Deputy Judges will smack them around in ways they never would a self-rep. And pretty much always rightly so. It's offensive to have a representative next to you who is woefully unprepared (by which I mean unknowledgable of the law and therefore unable to grasp the material issues of the case and direct their attention approriately), which is something I have experienced multiple times already in my very short career.

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1 hour ago, Mountebank said:

My experience with paralegals in small claims is that Deputy Judges will smack them around in ways they never would a self-rep. And pretty much always rightly so. It's offensive to have a representative next to you who is woefully unprepared (by which I mean unknowledgable of the law and therefore unable to grasp the material issues of the case and direct their attention approriately), which is something I have experienced multiple times already in my very short career.

TL;DR: I'm worried about the competence of the worst paralegals, and the worst lawyers. Is the preponderance of the former higher than the latter, I don't know. Other than the ethical duty not to act outside one's area of competence, what prevents a lawyer from acting in a family law or any other matter, thinking they know more than they do? Lawyers aren't typically known for being self-analytical and humble...

You're probably in small claims more than me (I'm typically only a couple of times a year at most), and admittedly anecdotal, I've been more impressed by the preparedness and conduct of their case by paralegals than most lawyers (I believe I'm an exception!). I assumed it was because they get into court more, in the same way that (barring any constitutional challenge or something) I've known lawyers to prefer to hire paralegals to deal with their own HTA offences (excuse me, alleged offences...).

But, that's in court and assumedly/hopefully the best ones with experience? I've also been impressed with some paralegals on the other side of a matter or as mediators, but I'll concede I've met some I thought would be problematic. But, I've also met lawyers I had similar concerns about.

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1 hour ago, epeeist said:

TL;DR: I'm worried about the competence of the worst paralegals, and the worst lawyers. Is the preponderance of the former higher than the latter, I don't know. Other than the ethical duty not to act outside one's area of competence, what prevents a lawyer from acting in a family law or any other matter, thinking they know more than they do? Lawyers aren't typically known for being self-analytical and humble...

You're probably in small claims more than me (I'm typically only a couple of times a year at most), and admittedly anecdotal, I've been more impressed by the preparedness and conduct of their case by paralegals than most lawyers (I believe I'm an exception!). I assumed it was because they get into court more, in the same way that (barring any constitutional challenge or something) I've known lawyers to prefer to hire paralegals to deal with their own HTA offences (excuse me, alleged offences...).

But, that's in court and assumedly/hopefully the best ones with experience? I've also been impressed with some paralegals on the other side of a matter or as mediators, but I'll concede I've met some I thought would be problematic. But, I've also met lawyers I had similar concerns about.

I agree about the concerns re: incompetent lawyers, yet my experience has been the opposite of yours regarding paralegals in court. But as you say, my evidence is anectodal as well.

I don't do any HTA or LTB or anything else that may be expected to attract paralegals with specialized knowledge. I only do civil, usually pretty much all case law based, and wonder whether that may be a factor.

I'm also principally a solicitor, so even though I always have a couple litigation files on the go, I'm not in court anymore than a couple times a month, and even then it's pretty much all Orders Giving Directions (where I only deal with lawyers on the other side). So even as far as anecdotal evidence goes, I expect there are a heck of a lot of others who could offer more than me re: dealing with paralegals.

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19 hours ago, Mountebank said:

I agree about the concerns re: incompetent lawyers, yet my experience has been the opposite of yours regarding paralegals in court. But as you say, my evidence is anectodal as well.

I don't do any HTA or LTB or anything else that may be expected to attract paralegals with specialized knowledge. I only do civil, usually pretty much all case law based, and wonder whether that may be a factor.

I'm also principally a solicitor, so even though I always have a couple litigation files on the go, I'm not in court anymore than a couple times a month, and even then it's pretty much all Orders Giving Directions (where I only deal with lawyers on the other side). So even as far as anecdotal evidence goes, I expect there are a heck of a lot of others who could offer more than me re: dealing with paralegals.

Paralegals in Small Claims is really a mixed bag. There are some really good ones who primarily practice civil, and then there are some really awful ones who practice door law. 

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