Paralegal SCOPE presents the eleventh in a series of Q&As for the PSC Election 2014. All answers are posted at the same time.
Listed Candidates have supported the profession by helping to make SCOPE possible. Listed Candidates care about ensuring that paralegals have access to information, not just during the election, but each and every day. These Candidates have supported a new licensee.
It’s March, 2018. Looking back on your PSC term, what are you most proud of?
It’s 2018 and I am now four years into my mandate as a member of the PSC.
My goals going in were to improve the educational standards of my profession, and create a more rigorous benchmarking for academic performance. This included targeted educational programs that address the scope of practice issues that we were dealing with in 2014.
Hand in hand with this, we have worked at making significant inroads on scope of practice. This was one of our greatest challenges. We have tackled a range of significant issues that were raised four years ago. We have addressed some of the existing “loopholes,” such as the distinction of barrister and solicitor work. Paralegals can perform more, yet described, tasks in the tribunals that remain within our permitted scope.
We will have established a collaborative relationship with our legal partners, to tackle the larger issues to the benefit of both professions.
And finally, through development and publicizing of more rigorous professional and ethical standards, we will have raised public awareness of our indispensable role in the legal system as highly regarded representatives for the public.
To sum up, did I achieve all that I wanted? The real answer is, I did my best at every turn to advance the role of our profession, while ensuring pubic confidence.
Learn more about Paula Callaghan
In four years from now I will be most proud of the tireless effort that I have put forward to advance the standing of the paralegal profession.
There is much more to being a member of the Paralegal Standing Committee than simple attendance twice a month. Involvement with the sub-committees and working-groups are paramount to a bencher being able to advocate and have a strong voice for change. The Access to Justice Sub-committee that addresses Legal Aid is one that I will have sought to participate in, and I anticipate considerable changes in the next four years.
The sub-committee dealing with education and licensing will have been exceptionally busy as our profession expands into new areas of practise.
The Paralegal Standing Committee will have been stronger and more persuasive participants at Convocation with the increased number of paralegal benchers. Having built lasting relationships that will carry forward beyond 2018; the efforts will be evident in the advancement of the profession.
I look forward to the next four years and would be honoured to receive your vote to represent our profession at Convocation.
I hope that in 2018 I can look back and feel like the PSC that was elected in 2014 accomplished something significant. I hope to be able to say:
1. The process has been developed so that paralegals can become competent in areas where expansion has been granted, such as appeals, family law, corporations and more, and write the necessary exams in order to obtain the limited licence and provide the related services.
2. Mentorship programs have been developed and refined, and continue to offer exceptional services to all paralegals to ensure paralegals are professional, competent and successful.
3. Several classes of students have now graduated from the “new and improved” licensing exam and they are proving that they are capable, eager, professional and excited about their future in this profession. Schools that were not providing adequate education in the areas of substantive law, professional ethics and practice management have been audited with deficiencies being properly addressed.
4. We have developed and enacted a communications strategy to better inform paralegals of PSC’s agenda, what has been presented to convocation, and what changes are occurring in our profession. This would also include information from other committees where much work is completed that affects our profession, such as Professional Regulation, Professional Development and Competence, Access to Justice, Government Relations and many more.
On a more personal note, I would hope that I played an integral part in the development of the new members to the PSC, assisting them in developing relationships, getting up to speed on projects that are in progress, and developing a reputation and image that will help them be re-elected to the PSC so that continuity can be maintained on the PSC at all times.
Cathy Corsetti, Brian Lawrie and I have the necessary experience in Convocation to ensure the continued development and expansion of our profession.
Looking forward to looking back I would like to see:
- High educational standards. Law is tough and graduates should be proud to have passed. It should garner a level of respect. A funded two-year college/university program with specialist courses for second year. Eight-month articling, starting part-time in the second year.
- Scope of practice including all areas where the public could benefit and not specifically disallowed. Practice in family, business services and immigration are reasonable expansions.
- P1s able to specialize in one or more areas. We still need generalist licensees and practices because of the viability of private practice P1s in rural areas.
- Definitional clarity across the board. There should be no confusion over what a paralegal is and does.
- Practice review tailored to P1s, not simply rules designed by lawyers made to cover paralegals. Business licensing options and trust accounting exemptions for amounts under $1,000.00 are ripe for review.
- Rationalization of the Professional Associations (PA). We are in the process of determining our political culture and ‘writing’ our ‘unwritten’ constitution. We need one PA, based on ethical and democratic principles, recognized by the LSUC and funded by dues paid by P1s. P1s at large must be able to speak with one voice. It is at the PA level where the politics is played out so that the PSC member can stay relatively above the fray. The job of the PA is to aggregate the interests of the P1s at large, independently collect data and consider and put forward policy initiatives with grounded arguments that enable the P1s on the PSC to force the policy initiatives on the LUSC agenda.
- Most importantly, increased transparency. This is huge problem in our profession. The incumbents seem to have recognised this but only one has said they would attempt to find a solution. The problem stems from confusion over the meaning of in-camera. Reporting of committee information, on a PSC web and/or social media site would be a significant step forward.
Politics is the art of the possible; I believe all this is possible.
Learn more about Ian Wilkinson
I hope that, come 2018, I will be happy and proud to report that ALL legislative amendments recognizing paralegals and creating a balanced playing field, have been made. It would also be my objective to report that:
- The paralegal scope of practice has expanded into areas where access to justice is needed, and that the public now views paralegals as their first choice for legal services within the scope.
- Convocation has agreed to review its governance structure to include more paralegals as benchers.
- Convocation has agreed to be more transparent and seek input from its members on a regular basis.
- I hope to report that I was able to create “Paralegal Day” at the Law Society. This involves: the paralegal reception and having all college program directors advised of information from paralegal organizations (OPA) and the LSUC, on the areas of practice, and in which areas new paralegals are most-needed. This will increase the realistic opportunities for new licensees to be successful.
And last — I would love to report that I voted for a paralegal to be Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Learn more about Robert Burd
Four years from today, paralegals will again face the task of selecting their members of the Paralegal Standing Committee.
In four years, the number of paralegal licensees will have increased to more than 7,000. I would hope that each and every licensed paralegal at that time will be interested enough to be involved in the election process.
In 2018, I will reflect with satisfaction on the previous four years, and on my more than 30 years of working to ensure that paralegals have seats at the table whenever, and wherever, access to justice issues are raised.
I look forward to the satisfaction of a job well done. I will have had four years to work with my fellow PSC members and with paralegals across the province and across Canada. Together, we have brought about the necessary changes to have seen paralegal licensing in other provinces. We will have a stronger access to justice mandate for properly educated, regulated and insured non-lawyer legal services providers for Canadians. Paralegals will be first in the minds of citizens for a wide range of legal needs.
Building relationships between lawyers and paralegals in every jurisdiction where English Common Law is in effect, is one of the things I am most proud of. Our results are powerful, positive and observed. All eyes are on Ontario, where paralegal licensing has ensured that citizens have competent representation from paralegals who are properly educated, with systems in place to encourage their success and ability to advocate.
In four years’ time, I will be proud of, not only my own accomplishments as a member of the PSC and other committees at Convocation, but of the entire complement of paralegals in the province.
Remember… Michelle Haigh, Cathy Corsetti and I have the necessary experience in Convocation to ensure the continued development and expansion of our profession. VOTE today!
Learn more about Brian Lawrie
Our fate; depended on the conduct of each member.
As a team, we took advice, received guidance from others. Teamwork has proven to be key in producing a common vision; the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives.
In building the ship, I didn’t drum up people together to collect wood, assigning them tasks, but rather; led them to long for the endless immensity of the sea; our full potential is visible, accessible, as is an increase to access for justice!
We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then, is not an act, but a habit, of which I am proud. It takes a village, a united front, to raise our infant field of practice. Change, is the only constant I’ve seen; a rich career filled with more beginnings than endings. With remaining untapped possibilities, waiting to be born, and great things completed, not by impulse, but by a series of small things, brought together, I’m satisfied yet eager.
Clear vision; Paralegals are a unique canvas,upon which there was artful paint applied! Paralegals filled a void in the system by performing ‘more’ straightforward legal tasks. Legal aid, insurance plans, pensions for paralegals, and a common understanding and excelled workmanship, have been established.
A new united front, implemented to continue the great accomplishments of the last 14 years, and its continued forward movement, with all mediums, social, and otherwise, delivering a welcomed, received message; Yes! Paralegals!
We have shared a common interest: advancing a prosperous paralegal profession. We have further defined who, and what we are! We have advanced educational standards, and certified, specializations.
Avoiding divisiveness, standing by my oath of duty, civility; my obligation to act in the best interest of the profession, the public, I succeeded, showing paralegals are respectable, valuable, indispensable; owning our professionalism; wearing confidence, fashioned a style, which is in demand!
In order to be irreplaceable, we have proven to be different!
In the depths of winter, where snowflakes alone, are so meek, together, we have dictated our valuable place, with clear voice, and delivered, understood message, we are respected, as a powerful snow storm! Winning!
It’s March 31, 2018 and we are waiting to hear who the new elected paralegals will be. I reflect back not only on the last four years, but the last eight, and feel really proud of the difference I have made to the paralegal profession.
I am proud of all the paralegal students and licensees that I have mentored both in work placement, individual mentoring and the creation of www.paralegalmentoring.ca .
I am proud of how the legal profession and the public have embraced what a paralegal can do to help with Access to Justice, with our expanded Scope.
I am proud that my colleagues continue to provide competent legal representation while maintaining superior civility and integrity skills, and continuing with their professional education.
I am proud of the colleges that are teaching our students and that they are graduating competent professionals.
I am proud that the LSRS that was once just a campaign goal back in 2010 is still providing members of the public paralegals’ names in their area and areas of legal needs.
I am proud that exemptions have been reduced, so that all representation is with the standards that the P1 provide.
I am proud that our fees have maintained stability.
I am proud of the legislative amendments that have continued to include paralegals.
I am proud my profession had the faith in me to elect me in this past term, it was a privilege!
Make sure on election day the candidate you vote for has the time and the passion to do the job.
Michelle Haigh, Brian Lawrie and I have the necessary experience in Convocation to ensure the continued development and expansion of our profession.
Are there any statements or comments made by you or your supporters during the campaign, which you want to clarify? Anything said or written about you, that you want to address?
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Candidate Q&A is available to all Candidates. Listed Candidates demonstrate support for the profession and for new licensees.