Paralegals: Is Ontario municipal assessment right for you? | Michelle Lomazzo

By Michelle Lomazzo

Law360 Canada (February 14, 2023, 11:13 AM EST) --
Michelle Lomazzo
Michelle Lomazzo
I continue to be inspired and impressed by the skillset of paralegals across Ontario. One area of practice that is less common for paralegals, is working for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) whereas as a paralegal you are a party to every assessment appeal. There is also the option for paralegals to appear before the Assessment Review Board (ARB) as a legal representative for commercial or industrial property owners. Are either of these options a good fit for you?

I discussed this area of practice recently with Mike Radan, a well-known London, Ont., paralegal who happened to “fall into” working for MPAC. Mike’s career as a paralegal is a second career. He obtained a bachelor of arts after graduating from high school. He found employment in the corporate world in management for 25 years. In his business management role, he was largely responsible for handling legal issues that would typically have been handled by a paralegal, like civil and employment matters.  

It seemed an appropriate fit when Mike was contemplating a second career and decided to enrol in a paralegal program. He graduated in 2016, but there weren’t many employment opportunities for paralegals in London. He decided to set up his own paralegal firm. Eventually a few more paralegals joined him. He represented clients in Landlord and Tenant Board, human rights and small claims court matters.

In 2018, he saw a posting for a case management analyst in the legal, policy and compliance department at MPAC, which required a paralegal licence. He applied and was hired and as they say, the rest is history! Almost six years later, Mike is now a senior assessment advocate and is enjoying a fulfilling career.

What is MPAC?

MPAC is an independent not-for-profit corporation funded by Ontario municipalities, charged with accurately assessing and classifying all properties in Ontario. The municipalities then use the property value to determine property taxes on residential, commercial and industrial properties.

What do licensed paralegals do at MPAC?

In his role as a case management analyst, Mike represents MPAC at ARB hearings where there are disputes about the property’s assessed value in commercial or industrial matters. Generally, there are three parties in attendance at these hearings: the property owner, the municipality and MPAC. As MPAC’s legal representative, Mike’s role is to question and cross question witnesses and present MPAC’s position on the property assessment. The ARB panel consists of one or three panel members, in more complex cases.

Why is this role desirable for licensed paralegals?

It offers a steady salary with benefits and a pension plan. MPAC pays Mike’s law society dues and his CPD fees. Mike does legal work eight hours a day, which is what he loves. He has support staff, clerks and legal assistants and an IT department. He doesn’t have to hustle for clients like others do when they open their own paralegal practice.

How do you get hired at MPAC?

Mike suggests you do the following:

  • Watch for postings on Indeed and the careers tab on the MPAC website
  • Paralegal students can apply to MPAC to do their college field placement
  • Apply to paralegal firms that represent clients before the ARB — an alternative to working at MPAC
  • Take a legal assistant position to get your foot in the door
  • Draw upon any previous work experience to address the core competencies MPAC wants.

Whether you work for MPAC or one of the many paralegal firms representing clients before the ARB, paralegals dominate this field of law. 

What advice does Mike have for newly licensed paralegals?

Mike suggests you find an area of law that you find really interesting and then focus on it. If you can specialize in one particular area, you become known for your expertise in that area of law and will be sought out. Doing so will mean you can build a successful practice in that area or get hired by someone looking for your expertise. The difficulty is that you must have the financial ability to focus on one area and not take every case that comes in the door. Being a generalist isn’t always a recipe for success however, once newly licensed, paralegals, like everyone else, must pay bills and put food on the table, hence the temptation.

It is worth considering working for MPAC or appearing before the ARB, if it’s the right fit for you.

Author’s note: The views in this article are mine alone and not representative of the Law Society of Ontario

Michelle Lomazzo was elected a paralegal bencher at the Law Society of Ontario in 2019. She has worked as an injured worker advocate for several years in Windsor, Ont. Through her legal services practice, Lomazzo Workers Compensation Appeals Professional Corporation, she specializes in workers compensation appeals before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and regularly appears before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT).  

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's firm, its clients, Law360 Canada, LexisNexis Canada, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

Interested in writing for us? To learn more about how you can add your voice to Law360 Canada, contact Analysis Editor Peter Carter at or call 647-776-6740.