More than 200 people participated in the awards ceremony May 29, at which Elaine Page was formally presented with the Distinguished Paralegal Award by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Here is the text of her speech, given after Paralegal Standing Committee Chair, Cathy Corsetti, made the presentation.
Treasurer, Cathy, Benchers, Honoured Guests, Members, friends and family — thank you.
To my illustrious colleagues who are recipients of awards tonight, you are an inspiration to us all and it is most humbling to share this evening with you.
Before I launch into my speech – I wanted to take a moment to thank the Paralegal Standing Committee for being the exemplary representatives that they are. You have served the Paralegal Community with honour and integrity and we don’t tell you enough how much we appreciate it.
Truly, I am overwhelmed to be the recipient of such an extraordinary honour. Who could have imagined that some 20-plus year ago, when I started my practice using an antique sewing machine as a desk and a rotary dial phone, that I would be standing here today? For that matter, that ANY Paralegal would be here?
I know that in the early days of my career I, like many paralegals, had to fight hard against the “less than” and sometimes discourteous attitude that we were subjected to. I had a distinct advantage though. I was the daughter of an iconic insolvency lawyer. Often I would just say my name and that would garnish me with a certain amount of respect. For several years I was known as “Murray Page’s daughter.”
I recall one case where I opposed a very young and very — let us say self-assured — lawyer who literally cried at the end of the trial, because he didn’t know how he was going to explain to his principal how he lost to a paralegal. Several years later, he opposed my father on a matter. Upon meeting him, he said with trepidation: “Oh no! You aren’t related to Elaine Page are you?” It was then that I knew I had made it.
We paralegals have moved from the shadows to becoming legitimate, respected and proud professionals. We did it as a community, supporting each other in ways that are unheard-of in most professions. When one of us is in need it is like a battle cry to the community; assistance is immediate and is profound. We as a community have been mentoring each other since long before it was a buzz word. The difference now is that we get CPD credits for doing it.
I would like to share this Award with my long-standing colleagues, who collectively laid the foundation that helped to create the paralegal profession. Ontario is the only place in the world that recognizes and values Paralegals as legal professionals and in large part it is because of the shining example you have set. You are the role models for the next generation.
The key to building on our success is mentorship and education, both formal and informal and it lies where it always has, in our hands. You have a responsibility to support our new licensees and instil in them the same values, skills and ethics that are the cornerstones of the profession that you built. Every exchange with a student or new licensee is a teaching opportunity that should not be wasted.
The rewards gleaned from supporting your colleagues, and being supported by your colleagues, are beyond measure. In that regard I would like to thank Judit Schonwald, a woman who I had spent time mentoring, and only two weeks after receiving her license she graciously nominated me for this very award.
I stand on the shoulders of all of those who have taken the time and energy to counsel me, nurture me, encourage me, challenge me, and give me a good swift kick in the behind when I needed one. There are many who fit that description and by no means is this list exhaustive. Firstly my father Murray Page, my brother Ken Page, and their partner, Jane Martin, who had the vision to train and coach me long before it was considered a possibility; the ever-tenacious Madam Justice Pamela Thomson, the hilarious Deputy Judge Harold Cohen, the brilliant Deputy Judge Laura Ntoukas, my colleagues Josh Siegel, Leslie Alexander, Cathy Corsetti, Michelle Haigh, and educator extraordinaire Sandee Sharpe. You all have my heartfelt gratitude and unending respect.
Finally – I would like to express my appreciation to all of my clients. Thank you for allowing me to be your voice in the face adversity. Thank you for paying your bills in a timely manner.
I especially would like to thank all the lawyers who trusted both myself, and my colleagues, with their files and their clients long before regulation existed. Your faith in our ability to provide quality legal service to your clients allowed us the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of membership into the Law Society. I look forward to strengthening our relationship and together providing exceptional access to Justice to the people of Ontario.
For more coverage of the ceremony, see the Gazette article.