If you have recently received a traffic ticket, odds are that you have some questions. Should you pay the ticket? Should you defend yourself in court? If so, how? Should you retain a lawyer or a paralegal? Is there a difference?
Take Some Time and Do Your Research
Check the Law Society of Upper Canada’s online Lawyer and Paralegal Directory. The Directory is searchable by name, postal code, city or area of law and includes the practicing status of the Lawyer or Paralegal you are thinking of hiring. If the licensee has been disciplined by the Law Society, or is restricted in their practice, the Directory will let you know.
Know Exactly Who Will be Representing You
When calling the firm for the first time, find out whether the initial consultation is free, and if not, how much you’ll be expected to pay. It’s okay to ask to speak directly with the Paralegal/ Lawyer who will be representing you. After all, they will be the voice advocating for you in court.
Feel free to inquire about:
Their experience defending traffic tickets, what their qualifications are, and what to expect from start to finish.
Ask All the Questions
You Want As with any service that you pay for, you have the right to completely understand what services you will be receiving, and what steps your representative will be taking while fighting your traffic ticket(s).
When trying to decide who you want to represent you, one of the best things that you can do is check Google Reviews. Look for reviews that seem fair and authentic. Another great option is to speak with people you trust who have been in a similar situation.
Remember, There is Always a Cost
When choosing a legal representative to work for you, it’s important to keep the overall price in mind. The cost will vary depending on the kind of services you are seeking, the complexity of the offence, and how long the matter will take to complete.
For example, costs will differ significantly based on whether you hire a representative solely to file your ticket, or whether you also require them to represent you in court (which includes obtaining and reviewing disclosure, attending resolution meetings, and speaking on your behalf).
Feel free to ask if the firm offers payment plans, and whether they charge based on a fixed or varying rate.
Difference Between a Lawyer and a Paralegal
Lawyers and Paralegals have quite a few responsibilities and characteristics that overlap, but key differences exist between them. Lawyers are licensed to offer a full range of legal services such as Criminal Law, Family Law, and drafting Wills and Contracts. Licensed Paralegals are more limited in scope, but their services are no less beneficial to the public. Paralegals typically practice in specific areas of law such as Provincial Offences (traffic matters), Small Claims Court, Landlord Tenant, Summary Conviction Criminal Offences, and WSIB. While Lawyers may be able to assist you in a broad manner, the cost of hiring a Licensed Paralegal is often much more affordable.
So take some time to think about the legal issue that you are facing, and figure out which legal professional will work best for you!