Our clients ask why anyone would hire a less qualified firm for the same cost, knowing they may be squaring off against their employer and their managers (and lawyers) in a hearing, as well as WSIB case managers throughout the claims process.
What is the Difference?
Lawyers are highly trained with four (4) years of formal post graduate legal training, including a J.D. or LLB, after graduating with a university degree, and then must pass two bar exams (barrister and solicitor).
Paralegals are required to only have a high school and a paralegal program diploma, which can be obtained in less than one year (48 weeks), and then can be eligible for a paralegal license exam.
Our firm charges based on results. We actually charge fees on a similar scale as paralegals and are therefore not generally more expensive. However, paralegals cannot provide full across-the-board legal services, in that they are not permitted to act for you in LTD/STD matters.
This inability by paralegals to represent you or give you advice about STD/LTD benefits can work a serious and significant prejudice to you.
This is aside from the fact paralegals may be able to obtain a license after less than one year of schooling and training, while lawyers must attend 3 years of law school after receiving a B.A. (many paralegals do not even have this), one year of articling (clerkship) followed by the requirement to pass two (2) bar exams, one as a barrister and one as a solicitor.
Some paralegals have no formal education whatsoever, having been allowed a license by being “grandfathered” in to membership. Some have merely been employed previously by WSIB with no legal training whatsoever.
Prior to retaining a paralegal the client should fully satisfy themselves as to the paralegal’s training, expertise and overall knowledge; and then ask about benefits arising from their STD/LTD (see above).
Paralegals are not permitted to refer to their business as “Institutes” or the like, so as to suggest they belong to some organization other than a paralegal business.