Trying to locate a competent paralegal or lawyer to handle your case? Have a few in mind but want more information before you commit?
While I do not represent clients with their legal matters (but rather support other legal professionals with their practices), I understand that many people who come across my website are looking for a lawyer or paralegal to represent them.
So, here are some quick internet searches you can do before signing on the dotted line:
1. Look at the Law Society of Ontario’s directory
The Law Society of Ontario has the Lawyer and Paralegal Directory. You can search by name or location, and a list of names will appear. You can also do an advance search by language or areas of law.
When you click on an individual’s name, more information about them will come up including any practice restrictions, current regulatory proceedings, and a summary of their regulatory history.
It will also list their status. If under status it states “suspended administratively” this means they have been suspended for administrative issues such as failure to pay their professional fees to the law society. If this is their status, they are not permitted to practice law or provide legal services, so they would be unable to take you on as a client.
2. Check out their website
If they don’t have a website, that is the first red flag as most seasoned professionals, at the very least, have a website. If they don’t, it’s possible they are brand new to the profession. If they do, start clicking through it. Ask yourself: Does it look professional? Do they have a blog post that can help you? Do you see any spelling errors or typos? If you find mistakes on their website, this could be a good indicator of their attention to detail. Human error occurs but if there are several, maybe consider someone else.
*Also, look for outdated information!*
This may be hard for you to spot, but there are two easy things to look for:
i) They state that small claims are under $25,000
Unless you stay on top of the various changes within the Ontario justice system, you may not know that on January 1st, 2020 Ontario Small Claims court increased the cap from $25,000 to $35,000. Since small claims is within the paralegal scope of practice, they can now represent clients who would like to make a claim up to $35,000.
Many paralegals still state on their website that they can represent clients with claims up to $25,000. This is outdated information and one error you can easily look for on their website.
ii) They reference the Law Society of Upper Canada
On January 1st, 2018 the Law Society of Upper Canada officially changed its name to the Law Society of Ontario. Since this was almost 3 years ago now, finding a reference to the Law Society of Upper Canada could be another indicator of their attention to detail.
3. Check their LinkedIn page
Looking at a lawyer or paralegal’s LinkedIn page can tell you a lot about that individual. When did they graduate? How long have they been in the profession? Are there any mistakes in their writing? You can also see their posts and comments which can be quite interesting. If they are someone who uses inappropriate language or makes angry comments, they may not be the person you are looking for.
Still nervous about hiring a lawyer or paralegal to represent you? Not sure where to start? Feel free to reach out to me as I am happy to point you in the right direction!
Written By Rebecca B. Tripp
Originally Posted on October 13, 2020
Updated on March 28, 2021
Copyright © 2020-2021 Rebecca B. Tripp All Rights Reserved.