Paralegal and related occupations (NOC 4211)

High demand occupation

About this job

Paralegal and related occupations include paralegals, independent paralegals, notaries public and trademark agents.

Want to learn more? Watch this WorkBC Career Trek video and see what it’s like to work in this type of career.

Paralegals:

  • prepare legal documents and conduct research to assist lawyers or other professionals.
  • work for law firms, record search companies and in legal departments throughout the public and private sectors

Independent paralegals:

  • provide legal services to the public as allowed by government legislation,
  • provide paralegal services on contract to law firms or other establishments.
  • usually self-employed

Notaries public:

  • administer oaths, take affidavits, sign legal documents
  • perform other activities according to the scope of their practice.
  • employed by government and in the public and private sectors
  • may be self-employed

Trademark agents:

  • advise clients on intellectual property matters.
  • employed by law firms and legal departments throughout the public and private sectors, trademark development and search firms
  • may be self-employed

People in this occupational group:

  • need to be able to conduct research
  • should have strong verbal and writing skills to communicate the details of legal matters with clients and supervisors
  • should have well-developed clerical abilities
  • should be interested in doing research, compiling information, interviewing clients, witnesses and other related parties,
  • put together documentary evidence to help lawyers
Common job titles
  • abstractor
  • agent, copyright / trademark
  • agent, court and tribunal
  • paralegal, corporate / criminal / family
  • paralegal, independent
  • paralegal, real estate / insurance law
  • abstractor
  • agent, copyright / trademark
  • agent, court and tribunal
  • clerk, notary public
  • clerk, real estate law / land titles
  • clerk, wills & estates / probate / tax

Duties

Paralegals and related occupations typically specialize in specific areas of law, such as commercial, corporate, family, real estate, litigation or criminal law. Paralegals and individuals in related occupations perform various duties described below.

Special duties

Paralegals:

  • help lawyers by interviewing clients, witnesses and other related parties, assembling documentary evidence, preparing trial briefs and arranging for trials
  • prepare wills, real estate transactions and other legal documents, court documents and affidavits and research the law, records, court files and other legal documents
  • Assist lawyers in preparation for mediation and judicial dispute resolutions
  • Research records, court files and other legal documents
  • Draft legal correspondence and perform general office and clerical duties.

Independent paralegals:

  • may represent clients in small claims court and other lower court proceedings, at tribunals and before administrative bodies
  • advise clients and take legal action on issues within their jurisdiction, such as landlord and tenant matters, traffic violations and name changes (in some provinces outside of B.C.)
  • are not permitted to represent people in court in B.C., but they may attend to landlord and tenant disputes, and attend some tribunal and administrative hearings (e.g., immigration matters)
  • are also not permitted to assist with name changes or traffic violations in B.C., which is considered to be the practice of law

Notaries public:

  • oversee oaths and take affidavits and depositions, as well as witness and certify the validity of signatures on documents
  • may draft contracts, prepare promissory notes and draw up wills, mortgages and other legal documents
  • may arrange probates and manage the estates of deceased persons

Trademark agents:

  • tell clients about intellectual property matters, and represent them before the Registrar of Trade-marks on matters including prosecution of applications for registration of trademarks
  • advise on whether trademarks may be registered, trademark licensing requirements, transfer of intellectual property and the protection of existing trademark rights, as well as represent clients at proceeding before the Trade-marks Opposition Board, and in related proceedings
  • may represent clients internationally in consultation with foreign associates and attorneys

Work environment

Legal assistants, paralegals, notaries public and trademark agents carry out most of their duties in offices, courthouses or law libraries, although they must sometimes travel outside the workplace to do research or perform other duties.

Most work full time throughout the year during normal office hours. However, workers in this occupational group must occasionally work very long hours under pressure to meet deadlines.

Workers increasingly use technology in their work, such as computers and online services offered through court, land title and corporate registries, so they should be able to learn new computer programs quickly.

Insights from industry

Job openings in the coming years will arise from new job creation and the need to replace retiring workers. Industry sources report that there is currently demand for paralegals in the province.

Organizations that hire paralegals and related occupations, such as those offering real estate, financial, insurance and legal services, are expected to expand as the need for their services increases due to provincial population growth.

Law firms and other organizations may reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals and related occupations, however, a lawyer is still responsible for and must supervise the work of paralegals and legal assistants.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates from the paralegal program usually find positions as junior paralegals.

These workers may be promoted to managerial and other law-related positions within a firm.

Those with a bachelor of law degree may be eligible to become lawyers if they meet the requirements of a provincial law society.

Additional resources