A Non-Lawyer May...

A non-lawyer may, among other things:

  • attend to all matters of routine administration;
  • appear in Court of Justice as an agent (Court of Justice Act section 62);
  • appear at a Court of Justice pre-trial conference as an agent on direction of the Court (Court of Justice Act section 64);
  • conduct routine negotiations provided that the client consents and the lawyer reviews all proposals before action is taken (Rule 6.1-3(h) of the Code of Conduct); and
  • prepare standard form transaction documents (e.g. for residential real estate transactions).

It is up to the lawyer to ensure that the tasks assigned to non-lawyer staff are appropriate for their role. Legal assistants perform administrative tasks such as scheduling, answering the phone, and preparing routine legal documents. Paralegals are well-suited to researching legal rules and processes, drafting documents, writing reports, and preparing evidence. Be cautious when relying on a paralegal’s research of legal questions and always review any research conducted by a non-lawyer (including articling students), as you are responsible for any errors resulting from their work.

It is a good idea to provide your non-lawyer staff with a written job description and guidelines for their job, including what tasks may and may not be performed by them. While this does not absolve you of your duty to supervise, it does provide a foundation for the working relationship and may make supervision more efficient.

Last modified: Friday, 25 August 2023, 1:58 PM