Jump to content
rsfell

Ontario Paralegal - Career path or waste of time?

Recommended Posts

I am researching some college programs, and am very intrigued by a paralegal certification course. But I am worried about job prospects following graduation. I already completed a social work diploma in 2008 but because of my health (cancer, full remission now though) did not get into the field or acquire any experience.

Now I'm ready to work, but I'm finding that I have no professional skills, hence going back to school.

I'm genuinely interested in law and in pursuing this route, and spoke with the director of the paralegal program and found him quite candid and honest about what to expect with regard to job prospects after graduation. He stressed that the opportunities are numerable BUT it's important to start networking immediately, as a student. I totally appreciate this. Also, let me clarify that the province of Ontario is unique in that Ontario Paralegals CAN give legal advice and CAN represent clients in small court matters.

However, as part of my research into this decision... I also spoke to a career recruiter on the matter.
His advice was literally "Do not waste your time with paralegal. You won't find a job."

So now I'm a bit worried.

Are there any paralegals out there who can offer some advice on this?? Especially Ontario paralegals... I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ontario paralegals are an interesting phenomenon. They just petitioned LSUC last week to be granted extended powers of representation... which would have been outright dangerous had it been accepted. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, but job prospects?  I'm worried about finding a job after graudating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ontario paralegals are an interesting phenomenon. They just petitioned LSUC last week to be granted extended powers of representation... which would have been outright dangerous had it been accepted. 

 

They actually withdrew the motion before it was considered. Interesting discussion here:

 

http://www.slaw.ca/2013/05/09/lsucs-pickle/

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They actually withdrew the motion before it was considered. Interesting discussion here:

 

http://www.slaw.ca/2013/05/09/lsucs-pickle/

 

Interesting read.

From said Motion:..."an expanded scope of practice including but not limited to: immigration law; family law; construction liens for matters within the financial jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court; super* summary offences under the Criminal Code of Canada; and Divisional Court appeals of matters that are within the current scope of practice for paralegals" (my emphasis)

 

Out in BC, those with "Designated Paralegal" or "Articling Student" status can already do all of the above, under the guise of the LBSC.

* not sure what "super" refers to but out here they can appear as counsel on all summary offences in the courts, provided they are properly "supervised".

Edited by HuskyHwy16

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a paralegal and I applied to law school this cycle. I think that statement says something.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't possibly hope to give you any insight into the statistical employment prospects of paralegals.  But I can say there are licensed paralegals who are doing very well for themselves out there.  I've worked with paralegals, I respect them (the goods ones) and they are a crucial part of the way that legal services are accessed by the public in Ontario.  Within the right sphere, I wouldn't hesitate to hire a paralegal to help me with a legal problem.  And yes, I'm a lawyer.  Paralegals tend to have niche specialties, and like many specialties you are far better off getting someone who does that one thing all the time, when you need that thing done, rather than hiring a generalist or, God forbid, trying to deal with your own problems as one.

 

So, you'll hear complaints about job opportunities, sure.  But you'll hear that coming out of any quick turn around college program.  Are your job prospects going to be better if you go to law school?  Well, yes, of course.  They'll be better for anyone who completes a full university undergrad and then obtains several further years of second-entry university training in a profession.  But that's hardly the appropriate comparison.  Let's remember the OP hasn't even got the undergrad yet.

 

I have only two significant pieces of advice, if you're looking in this direction:

 

1. Only attend a public college.  If you can't even get into a public college program, and need to go to a private college (COUGH*degreemill*COUGH) then you shouldn't even bother.  It isn't like it's hard in the first place to get into a public college program, comparatively speaking.

 

2. Evaluate your talents as a self-started and entrepreneur honestly.  Every legal professional I know who is really successful, especially the paralegals, are relying significantly on their ability to learn on their feet, solve problems on the go, project confidence, and attract trust.  Social work and paralegal work are very different skill sets.  Social workers are simply assigned work, and the people they help are, for the most part, simply stuck with the worker they have.  There's no entrepreneurship involved.  It's the next thing to working for the government, and very frequently is working for the government literally.  If you can imagine yourself as an entrepreneur, then a paralegal license can do a lot for you.  If you're waiting to be given work and told what to do from 9-5, you should think again.

 

Hope that helps, at least a bit.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am trying to take a paralegal program asap. I weigh out the public colleges becasue most of them take 2 years to complete the paralegal program. Among all the accredited paralegal programs from private in GTA, I wonder which ones are more recognizable and accepted by the employers? Or it does not matter once you become licensed? 


How about Metro College or Canadian Business College?


It is an urgent request and any comments would be highly appreciated!


N

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reread Diplock's post. Do not bother with going to a private college.

Thanks for your reply. But is there anyone out here who attended a private college and turned out ok in the end? I really do not want to spend 2 years to complete paralegal program. Anyone out there to give me some internal information to help me out? Many thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your reply. But is there anyone out here who attended a private college and turned out ok in the end? I really do not want to spend 2 years to complete paralegal program. Anyone out there to give me some internal information to help me out? Many thanks!

 

Nor would I want to spend that time and $ but, quicker does not mean better.

However your mileage may of course vary.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Correct me if I am wrong, but a paralegal program from a public college is four SEMESTERS, whereas a private college is THREE semesters.  

 

The reason why public colleges say two years is because students typically take the summers off (preferably to work as a summer student). 

 

With that said, I know that paralegal programs do offer summer courses.  Thus, if you want to get your program done ASAP, you should just go to a public college and do 4 semesters without a break.  

 

The fact is, where you go to school is always going to be something that is attached to you.  Every single time you apply for a paralegal job, one of the first thing your prospective employer is going to do is look at your CV to find out where you went to school.  Rightly or wrongly, private colleges will always be looked down upon in relation to public colleges.  It may seem like a great idea to get out in the working world a bit faster through the private route, but if you can just do 4 straight semesters from a public college you really have to do that.  

 

I am not in a position where I can hire a paralegal at this time.  However, I am most certain that I will get there someday.  And, when I do, I am not hiring a new graduate from a private college.  I might hire someone who graduated form a private college and has been working for 10 years, but I will always take the recent public graduate over the recent private graduate.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep. Its that simple. I would never hire a private graduate ($ but questionable academics) over a public graduate (less $ perhaps but made the public entry requirements academically).

Why would I as the market dictates that I don't have to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not going to beat the dead horse, but even allowing for all variations here, the private program isn't a year shorter - it's eight months shorter.  You may spend the extra term in a public college and "lose" the summer in between, but that's still only eight months.  There's no reason to count the summer following.

 

Also, Vsummer, your question is stupid.  I'm sorry, but it is.  I am absolutely positive you can find someone who attended a private paralegal program and "turned out okay."  I'm also sure you can find someone who spent their last few years strung out on crack selling themselves on the streets of Thunder Bay and who "turned out okay" in the end.  It isn't about finding one example.  It's about confronting the situation as a whole.  And as a whole, you're far better off going to a public college with recognition and standards than to a diploma mill.

 

But hey, you've been warned.

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not going to beat the dead horse, but even allowing for all variations here, the private program isn't a year shorter - it's eight months shorter.  You may spend the extra term in a public college and "lose" the summer in between, but that's still only eight months.  There's no reason to count the summer following.

 

Also, Vsummer, your question is stupid.  I'm sorry, but it is.  I am absolutely positive you can find someone who attended a private paralegal program and "turned out okay."  I'm also sure you can find someone who spent their last few years strung out on crack selling themselves on the streets of Thunder Bay and who "turned out okay" in the end.  It isn't about finding one example.  It's about confronting the situation as a whole.  And as a whole, you're far better off going to a public college with recognition and standards than to a diploma mill.

 

But hey, you've been warned.

First of all, thanks for your reply.

Second of all, please learn some manners when you reply online. I cannot judge if you would have good manners when you carry a conversation in real life, but you certainly do not have any when you made your points here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, thanks for your reply.

Second of all, please learn some manners when you reply online. I cannot judge if you would have good manners when you carry a conversation in real life, but you certainly do not have any when you made your points here.

 

 

I think you should take a step back and realize the hostility and discredit that private colleges and their paralegal programs have among the legal profession (called lawyers here) and those who will be in the legal profession (law students). The fact that people are responding to you and giving you good advice (however harsh) is valuable for you.

 

The bottom line is that, whatever your reasons were for going to a private college were, everyone that reads your resume will assume that you went to a private college because you could not gain admission to a public college. It is well known that private colleges have absolutely zero admission standards. Everyone that reads your resume will then assume that (1) you could not meet public college admission standards and (2) you were naive (and potentially stupid) enough to give a private college your money.

 

My advice is to get into a public college program and try to accelerate it if you can. You are only going to go to school once, so do it properly. Private colleges are nearly a scam. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

How about Metro College or Canadian Business College?

 

 

"metro college" or "canadian business college" sound like a joke to me. I see that they are accredited, but you still have to pass the paralegal exam. These private colleges are in the business of making a profit. The public schools are regulated by the provincial government and are in the business of education. Go to a school like Seneca or George Brown (public colleges). You need a job when it's all done and the person reading your resume will likely see "Metro College" and move on to the grads from the better programs. It scares me that these private colleges are allowed to offer this type of education with the tuition amounts they charge and the loans most students take on to attend. Don't do it. especially not as a quick fix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you should take a step back and realize the hostility and discredit that private colleges and their paralegal programs have among the legal profession (called lawyers here) and those who will be in the legal profession (law students). The fact that people are responding to you and giving you good advice (however harsh) is valuable for you.

 

The bottom line is that, whatever your reasons were for going to a private college were, everyone that reads your resume will assume that you went to a private college because you could not gain admission to a public college. It is well known that private colleges have absolutely zero admission standards. Everyone that reads your resume will then assume that (1) you could not meet public college admission standards and (2) you were naive (and potentially stupid) enough to give a private college your money.

 

My advice is to get into a public college program and try to accelerate it if you can. You are only going to go to school once, so do it properly. Private colleges are nearly a scam. 

ha, funny. I posted pretty much the same opinion at the same time. I agree with you completely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, thanks for your reply.

Second of all, please learn some manners when you reply online. I cannot judge if you would have good manners when you carry a conversation in real life, but you certainly do not have any when you made your points here.

 

 I wouldn't take it too personal, it's just his thing, he's not trying to be mean, everyone hail to the pumpkin king :prayer:  :rolling:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"metro college" or "canadian business college" sound like a joke to me. I see that they are accredited, but you still have to pass the paralegal exam. These private colleges are in the business of making a profit. The public schools are regulated by the provincial government and are in the business of education. Go to a school like Seneca or George Brown (public colleges). You need a job when it's all done and the person reading your resume will likely see "Metro College" and move on to the grads from the better programs. It scares me that these private colleges are allowed to offer this type of education with the tuition amounts they charge and the loans most students take on to attend. Don't do it. especially not as a quick fix.

 

 

There needs to be more regulation. They prey on the desperate (and often poor) who don't have the qualifications to get into proper schools and are sucked in by the illusion of better jobs. I know several people that went to Medix to become Pharm techs and no one would hire them. Pharm techs make like $16 bucks an hour. They are literally trained to read prescriptions and count pills. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



  • Recent Posts

    • I sent my transcript to UDM but not yet to LSAC.  Did you guys make that request through CAS?
    • Not directly related to law school ranking, but a healthy reminded that the success of a school's graduates isn't necessarily a measure of school quality. NYC has elite high schools whose graduates overwhelmingly place at Ivy League (or equivalent) universities.  Signs that they're good schools right?  Hmm, not so much, according to the Brookings Institute:  https://www.brookings.edu/research/evidence-on-new-york-city-and-boston-exam-schools/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=es Their research suggests that students who are "just" admitted to those schools don't do any better than students who "just" miss the admissions cut-off (i.e., functionally identical students who differ only in the schools they attend).  In other words, where kids go to school has no impact on whether they attend ivy league schools, suggesting that the "quality" impact of the elite schools are overrated.  They found similar results for schools in Boston too.  If elite schools place better than non-elite schools, the data suggests its because they admit elite students, not that they're better schools.   Something to keep in mind while ranking law schools.  
    • Did you apply for first year JD? I am confused how you would have been able to apply past the November 1st deadline. Are you a transfer student?
×