Practising law without a licence or professional liability insurance is called unauthorized practice of law and is monitored by the Law Society.
Some legal matters can be performed unsupervised by paralegals, legal assistants and other legal agents, but only members of the Law Society can give legal advice or engage in the practice of law. Laws exist to protect the public against non-lawyers performing services that only qualified lawyers are licensed to provide. More information is available in the below FAQs.
If you suspect that someone who is representing you as a lawyer is not qualified to do so, please contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lawyers must meet high standards of education, training and qualification, which includes maintaining standards of conduct (including compliance with the ethical requirements of the Code of Conduct). Among other responsibilities, lawyers must create an annual continuing education plan, and secure professional liability insurance to protect their clients from negligence.
There is no governing body for paralegals, legal agents and legal assistants in Alberta. When problems arise, you have no recourse for review, complaint or discipline of a paralegal, legal agent or legal assistant’s conduct.
There are no minimum or consistent standards of education, training or competence for paralegals, legal agents or legal assistants in Alberta.
Paralegals, legal agents and legal assistants are not accountable for their services, as there is no governing or regulatory body to set or maintain standards of service. They are not required to follow a code of conduct or ethics or carry insurance.
No. Your private conversations with a paralegal, legal agent or legal assistant are not protected by confidentiality or privilege.
While a paralegal, legal agent or legal assistant may charge less than a lawyer on an hourly basis, they sometimes charge more than lawyers for an equivalent service. Unfortunately, you are limited in terms of options if you feel you have been overcharged.
Paralegals, legal agents and legal assistants are not required to preserve your files.
As a lawyer, what can I do to protect myself if I am conducting a financial transaction with an individual represented by a paralegal?
Payments made on behalf of a client to a third party who is being represented by a non-lawyer should be made payable directly to the third party. Payments should not be made to a paralegal, legal agent, legal assistant or any other type of non-lawyer advocate.
A lawyer dealing with an unauthorized agent should view all transactions as being conducted with an unrepresented individual. Lawyers dealing with unauthorized agents should be extremely careful that they are in no way acting for the unrepresented individual, and thus being placed in a potential conflict of interest situation.