May 28 marked the first Convocation for 18 new lawyer Benchers elected last month, and the first for new Paralegal Standing Committee (PSC) Chair Michelle Haigh.
“I am thrilled to provide my first report as Chair of the Paralegal Standing Committee to Convocation today,” Haigh said. “I am nervous, energized and extremely excited to take on this new role. I look forward to serving the profession, the law society and the public of Ontario.”
Paralegal-related information from May Convocation includes:
Paralegal Competence Initiative Update
Michelle Haigh updated Convocation on the Professional Development & Competence initiatives with regard to paralegal competence. These include the new substantive examination which will be launched this August, the new accreditation and audit process for paralegal colleges, and possible further enhancements to paralegal education.
The Law Society has accredited 28 paralegal education programs at 48 campuses in Ontario. These have been approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. More stringent standards and beefed-up auditing were introduced in 2014 and all approved colleges must comply by September 2015.
Professional Regulation – Complaints, Investigations
Convocation received the Professional Regulation Division Quarterly Report. It report includes information on the Division’s activities and responsibilities, including file management and monitoring, from January to March 2015. The Paralegal Standing Committee considered considered the report at its May 13 meeting.
Paralegal Award Selection Committee Expanding
The Selection Committee for the William J. Simpson Paralegal Award will be expanded to include two additional members: one justice, or retired justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, and one Justice of the Peace or member of a judicial tribunal. The Treasurer will select the two additional members.
The Law Society created the award in 2011 to recognize a paralegal who has demonstrated: outstanding professional achievement; contribution to the development of the profession; devotion to professional duties; adherence to best practices and mentoring of others in best practices; a history of community service; and personal character that brings credit to the paralegal profession.
This year’s winner of the award is Paul Dray, who was the first paralegal bencher. Dray received the 2015 William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award May 27, to recognize his leadership in the paralegal profession. He was instrumental in creating the framework for paralegal governance and professional development in Ontario.