Paralegals are professionals who perform substantive legal work under the supervision of licensed attorneys, judges or other senior law officials and professionals. They are licensed and represent clients in matters, such as landlord and tenant disputes, provincial offences, traffic offences, labour law, immigration, estates, bankruptcies, divorces and small claims. However, they operate in a defined scope of practice.
Paralegals are trained in legal matters, who assist attorneys and judges and perform routine tasks that require knowledge of the law and legal procedures and policies. They can be employed with the government, law firms, insurance firms, community legal service, corporations and collection agencies. They may also be self-employed or work as freelancers. They basically handle paperwork, carry investigations, analyze depositions, answer client queries and prepare cases.
Becoming a Paralegal in Ontario
Paralegals have to undergo formal training in the Canadian Law and legal procedures before seeking employment. They require both theoretical and working knowledge of legal concepts, torts and contracts, legal accounting, legal research and computer applications. A post-graduate certificate paralegal program provides you with the knowledge and skills required to build careers in this field.
Typically it’s one-year program that runs through three semesters and covers a wide range of subjects. The first semester lays emphasis on the Introduction of the Canadian Legal System, Legal Computer Applications, Legal Research/Writing, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Torts and Contracts and Administrative Law.
The second semester covers advocacy, Evidence and Litigation Process, Communication/Writing, Tribunal Practice and Procedure, Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Provincial Offences / Motor Vehicle Offences and Small Claims Court. You study Immigration Law, Legal Accounting, Employment Law, Criminal/Summary Conviction Procedure, Residential Landlord and Tenant Law, and Practice Management/Operating a Small Business in the third semester of the paralegal course.
It also incorporates an extensive 210 –hour field training component, allowing you to put your learning to practice and gain hands-on experience while working in a real-world setting. This is an experiential learning opportunity that exposes you to realistic workplace environments. You also gain an understanding of industry expectations.
Why Study at Centennial College?
Numerous colleges in Ontario offer graduate certification programs in paralegal. However, not all are accredited. Moreover, they may not provide you with industry exposure, which is a basic requirement to seek employment.
Centennial College’s paralegal program toronto is accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC). This means you are eligible to write the mandatory LSUC licensing examination, which is required to practice as a paralegal in Ontario. In addition, the program:
Prepares you for the realistic expectations of the field through assessments by mock tribunals
Offers strong employment prospects upon graduation
Makes you eligible to write the mandatory licensing exam from the Law Society of Hands-on Learning using technology systems, such as PCLaw, Quicklaw and other legal research tools that support paralegal objectives
In order to apply for this program, you will need:
University degree or college diploma in any discipline, or a partial university degree with a minimum of two years relevant work experience
A proof of English proficiency
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The author of the article, Jason White discusses the process of becoming a paralegal in Ontario. He also writes about how Centennial College’s one-year paralegal program prepares graduates for this profession in just one year.
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