Legal People – who are they?

Michael CarabashLegal People? Who are they and what are they capable of?

Well, here’s a short description of the more popular legal people that you’ve always wondered about but never really knew what it was all about:

Lawyer: A person who goes to school for a long time to get trained in analytical and legal reasoning. Lawyer services can be used for various legal issues – ranging from facilitating transactions (like buying or selling a home), representing parties in trial or administrative proceedings or providing answers to legal questions. Lawyers are very good at reading, writing, researching, thinking, and speaking (both on their own behalf and on behalf of their clients).

Judge: A lawyer who acts in the capacity as a trier of fact/law and renders judgment in cases. A judge is presumed to be impartial, neutral, and unbiased. They are supposed to conduct trials in a fair and efficient manner to all parties, and (in certain circumstances) weigh the evidence and assess the credibility of witnesses and their testimony. If an accused is convicted in criminal court, a judge is also responsible for handing down a sentence i.e. prison term, monetary, etc. In civil cases, a judge must determine what, if any, compensation, award, damages, declaration or other order is warranted in the circumstances.

Paralegal: Is not a lawyer. In Ontario, they were only recently required to be licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada. They are capable of representing parties in Small Claims Court matters (i.e. less than $10,000), minor criminal matters, adjudicative proceedings before Ontario or Federal boards and agencies, provincial highway traffic offences, and statutory accidents and benefits claims. Paralegals are often found assisting lawyers with their files and typically work under their supervision.

Justice of the Peace (JP): Is an appointed official (sometimes elected, depending of the region) that deal with certain minor court-room matters, such as scheduling a date for trial, hearing and trying provincial offences, performing civil marriages, etc. It is not necessary for a JP to have a formal education in law or to have been a lawyer (as is required to be a judge).

Notary Public: Is a public officer who performs non-litigious matters e.g. powers- of-attorney, administering oaths, verifying documents (passports), etc. Notary Public’s do not necessary have to be lawyers, however lawyers qualify as notary republics so long as they fill in the application, pay the $150 (or whatever it costs) government fee, and get themselves an embosser (around $60 at Staples Business Depot).

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