Q&A: PSC Candidates Answer Question 9

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SCOPE presents the ninth in a series of Q & As for the PSC Election 2014. All answers are posted at the same time. Candidate names are rotated from time to time, to ensure “alphabetical fairness.”

 

    Question 9:

      What makes you unique, as a Candidate? What sets you apart?

 

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Cathy Corsetti

With such a large pool of candidates to choose from, I think it is important to look at what experience each Candidate brings to the table.

As an incumbent, I have the skills not only to know where we are going, but how to get there. I know where our last meeting left off, what work has been approved and which stakeholders are being consulted. I have relationships with staff, benchers, government and stakeholders, which will help the profession advance.

Yes, it is an advantage to have already been a member of the PSC, just as it is important to continue our work — not start at the beginning. There is room on the PSC for “new faces,” but it is important for the “old faces” to show them the way and to continue their work.

I believe that over the last four years as a member of the PSC, I have brought a lot of change to the profession. We still have a long way to go. If you look at the four-year progress report presented at our last convocation, and focus on the work we are doing on the expansion of the scope, reduction of exemptions, education and legislation amendments, yes we have a long way to go. My team and I know how to get us there.

Make sure that, starting on March 12, the candidates you vote for have the time, passion and experience 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.

Learn more about Cathy Corsetti

 

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Robert Burd

What makes me unique over the other candidates is almost 20 years of involvement in paralegal regulation.

Most candidates, to their credit have reviewed the Cory Report, the Morris Report and other such reports, well I was directly involved and made submissions that were ultimately adopted.

I have spent the last 20 years listening to paralegals throughout the province about their issues. I am a passionate advocate and have the diplomacy to be effective in any situation. It is important to know where we as paralegals have come from in order to know where we have to go.

I haven’t read the history; I was a key part of it. I have experienced first-hand all the ups and downs in paralegal regulation and paralegal organizations. Never do I think I know everything and never do I stop listening.

My track record clearly demonstrates my relentless quest to promote, advocate and educate for my fellow paralegals. I have done it in the past, I do it today and I will continue tomorrow.

Learn more about Robert Burd Election Statement

 

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Brian Lawrie

One thing that sets me apart from the other candidates is my ability to identify the community’s need for competent paralegal representation and my willingness to go to battle with the Law Society to win the right for citizens to choose their representative in court.

It began during my tenure with the Toronto Police Department. I could see, first hand, the extreme difficulty faced by citizens who wanted to challenge their traffic ticket in traffic court. At that time there were very few, if any, lawyers who would attend traffic court.

In 1983, I left the Toronto Police Department and began to represent citizens who decided to fight their traffic tickets. What seemed like a good idea at the time quickly became a nightmare when I was charged by the Law Society with “unlawfully acting as a Barrister and Solicitor.” The ensuing legal battle was long and expensive, with my legal bill reaching well into six figures. Many times I had second thoughts, however, my belief in the need for the service, my ability to deliver it, and my faith in the justice system made me all the more determined to continue on as long as I was able.

I won and from that came, not only the right to appear in traffic court, but also, the right for other paralegals to play a pivotal role in providing affordable legal services in many other arenas beyond traffic court.

It wasn’t called “access to justice” then, but thanks to the advent of so many competent and capable paralegals, it is now.

I am a strong and constant advocate for our profession, I know the way forward for this profession and, with input from everyone, I intend to continue to do what is right and required for paralegals. I need your vote to do that.

Michelle Haigh, Cathy Corsetti and I have the necessary experience in Convocation to ensure the continued development and expansion of our profession.

Learn more about Brian Lawrie

 

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Ian Wilkinson

Being the only candidate with an LL.B. would have to be the most apparent and most relevant to the PSC. This gives me some credibility with benchers and with that I will be better able to speak with them on ‘even terms’.

My studies in Political Science and Public Administration give me a perspective on the machinery of government that is likely unique among the candidates. It gives me a unique understanding of government and an overview of how the bureaucracy really works.

Informally, I am a lifetime student of history and especially development of western political and legal theory. I have a deep understanding of the historical significance of the structural foundations that we are putting in place.

True, some candidates have been in practice since before I started in 1992, but uniquely from what I understand, mine was a ‘generalist’ practice in full sense of the word. I offered a wide range of services, including bankruptcy, incorporations, pardons & US Waivers, CCC/POA/HTA, uncontested divorce, name-changes, landlord/tenant and more.

Uniquely, (excepting one other candidate) I franchised paralegal offices. In 1995, I opened a franchise office in Kitchener and London, and later in Guelph and Hamilton, with others following. In 1998 I opened a street-side legal centre with a variety of legal professionals (accountants, trustees-in-bankruptcy, trade professionals, lawyers and paralegals).

It’s clear I have been a hands-on front-line ‘first-responder’ in the Access to Justice story for a very long time. From this I have a deep understanding what people ‘on the street’ need and the scope of practice that we can competently engage in. I know what it takes to start-up in private practice and further how we can reasonably interact with other professionals to the benefit of the public.

Each candidate brings their own unique characteristics to the table that may be of value to the PSC ‘team’. I am a diehard rationalist. I will follow the best rational argument where ever it leads. I use the Socratic dialectic method of asking questions and parsing the answers. Unfortunately, sometimes people take this as personal criticism when it is not.

Learn more about Ian Wilkinson

 

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Paula Callaghan

I am fairly new to the paralegal profession, but my life experience and background have prepared me well for this new career. Those same experiences would help me to keep the Paralegal Standing Committee moving forward towards positive change.

I would say my main strengths and qualities include my passion for legal services, my work ethic, and my ability to listen and understand the concerns of my peers before choosing any course of action. I will apply these skills to my duties on the Paralegal Standing Committee.

As an Eastern Ontario representative, I will bring forward issues of particular relevance to paralegals in my area and other outlying areas. I can build on the success I have already achieved in the short time I have been licensed.

I run my own practice and understand the challenges faced by new paralegals, as we try to earn and grow in our profession. As a sole practitioner, I am familiar with the issues that arise when starting a new practice, including capital requirements for business startups and accreditation issues with respect to scope of practice.

I am the current Chair of the Policy Committee of the Paralegal Society of Ontario (PSO), in which committee members develop policy papers, lobbying for the advancement of the paralegal profession. I was recently appointed Chair of the Paralegal Education Committee of the County of Carleton Law Association. My mandate is to develop and deliver relevant and quality paralegal-specific continuing education courses.

I also volunteer my time. I am involved with the County of Carleton Law Association “Annual Lawyer Play” and the “Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program” with lawyers, judges, court clerks and police officers in the Ottawa area. Being involved with these people gives me a unique insight to all aspects of the services we all offer in our daily lives, as legal service providers. Building relationships and friendships has been invaluable to me personally and in building my practice.

Does my collective experience make me unique? I would say it makes me just like you, as I continue to learn and grow in this profession. I believe getting involved is the only way to effect change.

Learn more about Paula Callaghan

 

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Jaclyn P. Solomon

When you are aware of the uniqueness of everyone’s individualism, will you begin to have a sense of your own self-worth. I work well as a team, with a contagious, common goal. Unafraid, to show my own style, and uniqueness, to stand out, I can make a difference!

My personality traits summarized: extroversion, energy, tenacity, tendency to seek stimulation, work within the company of others. Extroversion, marked by pronounced engagement with the external world. I am full of energy, and experience ongoing positive emotions. I’m enthusiastic, action-oriented, and say, “Yes!” or, “Let’s go!” (to opportunities.) Not a talker, a do- er! Goal oriented, I believe in our profession!

Agreeableness; tendency to be compassionate and cooperative, rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. I am considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, and willing to compromise my interests with others. I have an optimistic view of human nature.

Conscientiousness; showing self-discipline, acting dutifully, aiming high for positive achievements. Conscientiousness concerns, is the way in which I control, regulate, direct my impulses. Occasionally, time constraints require a snap decision, and acting on first impulses can be an effective response.

Openness to experience; appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, and unusual ideas; imaginative and curious. That’s me!

Perfectionism: always seeking the best in oneself, others, in general!

Pride: fiercely proud as a paralegal with belief, in the golden rule, I am free from persistent negative feelings. Openness to experience, describes dimension of cognitive style, that distinguishes imaginative, creative people from down-to-earth, conventional people. I’m intellectually curious, appreciative and sensitive.

I think and act in an individualistic and nonconforming way. I proceed assuredly, positively, and pursue persistently. When I arrive at one goal, it’s the starting point to another. My strength lies in my tenacity, not ever becoming complacent. I don’t run without a goal.

Once something is a passion, the motivation is there. Believing in myself, I can confidently ask for your support, hoping to win your respect, and honour my commitment. I am Jaclyn Solomon of Lawfully Yours, I hope you vote for me, to represent us; to be Lawfully ‘Ours!’

 

Learn more about Jaclyn P. Solomon

 

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Michelle Haigh

I have a unique set of skills that separates me from all other candidates.

The first is that I have been on the PSC since its inception in 2006, maintaining continuity on the committee and bringing a reasoned and measured approach. I have been able to build strong and healthy relationships and gain the confidence and support of my fellow benchers.

I have full insight of the priorities and processes at the law society, as I have actively participated in more than 10 different committees and working groups over my tenure. Through relationship building, purposefully choosing my battles, deliberating, and strategic lobbying, I made sure that I was on the right committees to effect change.

An example would be when I volunteered for the Governance Working Group, which was the committee that brought about the change to the number of paralegal benchers. I was persistent and clear in my approach. I made sure that during the five year review, this issue reached the attention of Mr. Morris, which was a major reason why I was able to assist in making this change.

Rewind to the beginning — I graduated from Sheridan College with honours from Paralegal Studies. Over the past 18 years, I have been very successful in operating a small litigation practice, which I opened during my second year of college. I gained the competencies and confidence to become a respected paralegal. This experience, moreover, has shown me the value of a mentor and I am constantly working with new licensees and older members of our profession when approached with new or difficult matters.

I took a leave from my small firm to manage a large litigation practice at a law firm. This opportunity strengthened my skills to read financial statements, manage a large team, prepare RFP’s (requests for proposals), and ultimately, how to work with people’s strengths in order to make them, and our company, successful.

Cathy Corsetti, Brian Lawrie and I have the necessary experience in Convocation and on the PSC to ensure the continued development and expansion of our profession.

Learn more about Michelle Haigh

 

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Tami Cogan

I have spent my professional career in the role of a facilitator. Currently, as an advocate for parents of special needs children, and previously as a police officer, the majority of my work involves facilitating during disputes.

I have been in a professional position that required me to ask the controversial questions and have the difficult conversations with people that others shy away from. Their positions may be shrouded in history and misconceptions. Sometimes it is only after the difficult conversations have taken place that opposing positions can be brought together. Other times it is the information gleaned from the difficult questions that provides the information necessary to make an appropriate decision.

Decisions made by a governing committee will have a long-term affect. It is important that its members be able to see the “bigger picture” and consider all interests. It is also important that its members can make a decision and stand behind it. I am able to make difficult decisions. And in the face of controversy, I am steadfast in my position because I am confident in the basis for the decision.

I am young in the profession, with a fresh perspective, but have a wealth of knowledge in the legal field and a wealth of experience as an advocate.

Learn more about Tami Cogan

 

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Question 10:

    What is the appropriate role for paralegals, in the provision of legal services in Ontario?

 

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