By Perry Lefko
Growing up in Brampton, Ryan De Souza had an interest in law and he’s turned that into a paralegal career specifically geared to help people fight highway traffic violations in Ontario.
The 37-year-old began Legal Auto Protect last October, offering consumers a chance to buy a membership as protection to help fight traffic tickets. His company is based at 2 County Court Boulevard in Brampton.
His entry into the paralegal field came through a circuitous route. He studied at Sheridan College in Brampton, but left that to take a full-time job at a Chrysler assembly plant, working for a year before he was laid off. Subsequently, he began importing electronics from China and then enrolled in the Paralegal Program at triOS College in Mississauga.
“I always had an interest in law, ever since I was young, I just couldn’t afford the schooling at the time,” he says. “I always knew I was going to open my own business.”
While working as a paralegal, he developed the idea to start a company specifically aimed at people who were charged with traffic violations and defended themselves in court.
“I was sitting in the courtroom representing two clients and when I looked behind me and saw about 60 people in the body of the court, I’d say maybe only 10 of them had a legal representative,” he says. “So there’s 50 people sitting there stressed out, not knowing all their legal rights and I thought to myself what can I do to try to represent everyone here and be successful at it too?”
So, two-and-a-half years after he began in the paralegal profession, he started Legal Auto Protect. He has three paralegals who work for him and for as little as $1 a year for five years, a person can buy membership as a kind of insurance in case they are ticketed for a traffic offence. There are membership packages for as long as 25 years that cost only $20. De Souza says the value of his service is that people are paying a small fee for peace of mind and customers will pay 50 percent less than if they opted to go with a competitor.
“What I’m trying to do is help drivers who have been ticketed with a Highway Traffic Act offence, go to work, save their income and not have to show up to court all stressed out and not knowing all their legal rights,” he says. “It’s like having a legal representative on your team already driving with you. If you get a ticket, you simply upload it to our site and one of our legal representatives will get back to you within 48 hours with all your legal options and will also give you time to pay off the retainer in affordable installments.”
For more information about Legal Auto Protect, go to www.legalautoprotect.com.