Having a legal issue is never a fun experience. Being charged by the police can be a frightening, costly, and damaging experience with long-lasting consequences if not handled correctly. For that reason, many choose to hire a legal representative to fight their charge for them. The court system is complex, and it is hard to imagine you have a fair chance as an individual with no legal training, up against a team of prosecutors with years and years of experience. Couple this anxiety with the fear of the penalties you’re facing, and you can quickly find yourself panicking about how to proceed. Hiring a legal representative can help level the playing field and provide you with effective legal representation.

However, as we know in every profession, not every professional is the same. Whether you are looking to hire a plumber to fix your plumbing, a painter to pain your house, or a legal representative to represent you in court, it is crucial to know what to look for in an experience professional. This is incredibly important when choosing a legal representative. You could always choose to paint your home again if there was a mistake, you are not always able to have a second chance at a legal matter. Therefore, choosing the right representative is crucial to success.

I will be going over three things I believe you need to know to make an informed decision when retaining a lawyer or paralegal for legal services. 

Are they licensed to provide legal services and in good standing (not suspended)?

In Ontario, you must be licensed by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) to provide legal services. Both lawyers and paralegal are regulated by the LSO. The LSO requires that legal representatives obtain the required schooling, passing the provincial exam, and remaining in “good standing” to receive and continue to be licensed. In Ontario, paralegals must follow the Paralegal Rules of Conduct set out by the LSO. If a licensee contravenes these rules or any other by-laws, they may find themselves in disciplinary hearing with the LSO. If the LSO finds that a licensee has broken the rules, they could face a suspension of their license or other restrictions. The LSO keeps a record of all members that have been brought before the disciplinary committee. If you are considering hiring a legal representative, I recommend using the Law Society of Ontario directory to look your licensee. Any licensee in good standing would be happy to provide you with their licensee number to make the search easy. If a licensee does not want you to review their professional record, I would recommend exercising caution moving forward. 

What area of law do they focus on?

When it comes to this, I love to use the saying “A jack of all trades is a master of none”. It holds true to any profession. But, especially for legal services. During school to be a legal representative you study a very broad range of legal topics. The law is so complex, and it touches on so many aspects of our life. This creates several different areas of law. For instance, if you need a real estate lawyer, you call a real estate lawyer, not a criminal or family lawyer. Most legal professional will focus on one area of law that they put 100% of their focus towards. However, there are several that seek to obtain business anyway they can, and commonly it is done by accepting work for any area of law they are permitted to work in, despite the lack of competence they may have in their ability to complete the work. This can be extremely dangerous for the public.

If you are seeking a legal representative, ask them what areas of law they focus on and make sure they have the experience to adequately represent you. At OTD Legal, all we do is fight traffic tickets. This allows us to provide the most effective representation possible to our clients. 

Are they making guarantees?

It is against the law for a legal professional to make a guarantee on a legal matter. Every day I am asked by potential clients for a guarantee. My answer has yet to ever change and remains to be the same; I am not permitted nor will I ever offer any sort of guarantee for a legal matter. Most individuals are understanding of this when explained why and how the court system works. Most are simply confused due to what they may have seen on TV. What is worrisome is that individuals that are going to continue to call someone until they receive a guarantee. Because, truth is, they probably will. You must be extremely cautious if you are receiving a guarantee because nobody is able to provide one. Even if it were not against the law, it is impossible to know the future outcome of a legal matter. 

What to do if you’ve been charged with a traffic ticket?

If you are charged by the police, it is important to immediately seek out the information that you will need to make important legal decisions. Being unaware of the law or the court process can result in legal missteps that can result in a conviction and penalties that will impact your life for years to come. Obtaining legal representation puts a licensed, knowledgeable, and experienced paralegal in the courtroom on your behalf to protect your interests in reducing or eliminating the consequences of a possible conviction. If you have been charged by the police, our team is here to help you. OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services provides a no-cost, no-commitment initial consultation to assist you. Our friendly staff can be reached via the toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at help@otdlegal.ca, or by text at 226-240-2480. You can also request a consultation online and one of our staff will contact you directly to assist you.