The Importance of Choosing a High-Quality Paralegal Diploma Program
In contrast to the rest of Canada, paralegals in Ontario enjoy a broad scope of practice that goes well beyond the duties of a simple legal assistant. They can offer legal advice to clients concerning their interests, rights or responsibilities; negotiate on behalf of a client; and draft documents for use in a proceeding. They can also represent clients in court in a variety of situations, such as in small-claims court, in the Ontario Court of Justice under the Provincial Offenses Act and on summary conviction offenses where the maximum penalty is less than six months imprisonment or a $5,000 fine. Paralegals can find work with law firms, corporations and the government, and many even start their own private practices.
This broad range of possible duties and paths makes being a paralegal a great career choice for those with analytical minds, high attention to a detail and a strong interest in the law.
If you’re interested in beginning your training as a paralegal in the province of Ontario, here’s what you should know about the importance of completing a high-quality paralegal diploma program, which can help you begin your new law career on the best possible footing, and give you the skills and knowledge needed to thrive and advance in the role.
Accreditation is Essential for Paralegal Programs
When choosing a paralegal program, it’s essential to make sure that the institution you’re considering is accredited. In Ontario, this means accreditation from the Law Society of Ontario (formerly known as the Law Society of Upper Canada), a professional association responsible for the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals in the province.
This is particularly important because in Ontario, where paralegals engage in a wider scope of practice than in other provinces, you have to meet certain strict licensing requirements in order to become a legally recognized paralegal. In order to earn your license, you must pass the Law Society’s Licensing Exam, a prerequisite of which is a diploma or certificate from an accredited program. Without this, students will not be able to take the exam, and will not be able to practice as paralegals.
Becoming licensed is one of the first steps for students beginning their paralegal careers, so accreditation should be a primary concern when researching paralegal programs.
Paralegal Courses Should Give Students a Broad Foundation in Canadian Law
A high-quality paralegal diploma program can help you prepare for the licensing exam while giving you a broad introduction to the Canadian legal system and the many specialities and areas of focus contained within. Canadian Business College’s one-year paralegal diploma program, for example, includes modules on a variety of topics including legal research, litigation, torts, contracts, advocacy, criminal practice, landlord and tenant law, immigration, ethics and more. Students graduate with a well-rounded knowledge the processes and concepts found within Canadian and provincial law, and the many areas of specialization they can choose to pursue as they continue their careers as paralegals.
Study with Practicing Lawyers and Paralegals
It is also important to choose a high-quality paralegal diploma program in order to connect with well-qualified instructors who can not only provide you without a robust knowledge of Canadian Law, but also valuable insights into its current, real-world practice. By studying with practicing lawyers and paralegals, students can ensure they have the most well-rounded and up-to-date education possible, preparing them to thrive in their future positions as paralegals.
Are you interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal in Ontario?Contact Canadian Business College for more information about our paralegal courses.