Nearly 250 newly licensed paralegals were welcomed to the profession Wednesday, at Osgoode Hall.
Held twice a year, the New Paralegal Reception is a Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) initiative. It gives paralegals a chance to celebrate their licensing achievements, to network and to learn more about the Law Society services and support systems.
This spring event included paralegals from the four corners of Ontario: Sudbury, Bracebridge, Wilberforce, Ottawa, Cornwall, Aylmer, Strathroy, St. Thomas and London.
New licensees were welcomed to the legal community by LSUC staff; representatives of Ontario’s senior judiciary; Law Associations; recipients of the Distinguished Paralegal Award; and PSC members, including paralegal, lay-bencher and lawyer members.
Information and Services for Paralegals
Cathy Corsetti, chair of the Paralegal Standing Committee (PSC), outlined such programs as the Law Society Referral Service and Member Assistance Plan. Membership services and information at the Law Society’s website, along with Paralegal SCOPE Magazine, serve to ensure that paralegals have the information they need to be successful. Corsetti encouraged the new licensees to use these services, and to reach out to their more-experienced counterparts, to achieve professional success.
“A very large percentage of practicing paralegals are sole practitioners,” Corsetti said. “Our experience shows a real disadvantage to working in isolation. Consider sharing space with a colleague, or developing an informal association for Continuing Professional Development. Consider looking for a mentor who is a more experienced professional. Joining a paralegal association can help with introducing you to other paralegals and mentors.”
Keeping Up With Change
Corsetti highlighted some significant changes that affect paralegal licensees, including last summer’s Commissioner of Oaths legislative change that makes paralegals commissioners by virtue of office. Accreditation and auditing changes will affect paralegal education, and the licensing exam is being changed to include substantive law material.
Senior staff, including CEO Robert Lapper and Treasurer Tom Conway, explained the Law Society governance system and structure. Conway noted that paralegals are an important component in access to justice in the province. “The public benefits from paralegals,” Conway said. “You provide access to legal services when they are needed, and in a way that meets the needs of Ontarians best.”
Wednesday’s event marked the first meet-and-greet for the new PSC. The five paralegal members are also benchers — able to vote at Convocation, the monthly meeting of the “board of governors” of the Law Society.
It also marked a new tech-change: #licensed2014 allowed Twitter account-holders to post live tweets about the Reception.