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FarTooOld

London, Ontario - Realistic Career Opportunity?

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Hello everyone,

As my username would suggest I am an older adult (45). I have always thought of a career in law but, well, life and kids......

Anyway, a recent life event has prompted me to revisit the idea. I though about law school but, honestly, it's too long a process and I would have to go back to Western and do a few courses. Let's just say that my university days were not so focused on doing well. But I do have a B.A..

If I did complete the paralegal studies I would go into the field self-employed. I've been self-employed most of my adult life and wouldn't have it any other way. I know how to successfully be self-employed (motivation, service, business side of things).

So, all that said......

1. What school would you recommend? 

2. What are the realistic income opportunities? Do folks in London realistically seek out paralegals?

Thanks!

 

 

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Hey, I practiced law in London. I'd say Fanshawe over Westervelt hands down.  Income? Well, depends if you get work or not. FWIW, the London courthouse had a few clerks who were paralegals. Duty Counsel's receptionist was also a paralegal.  It's a pretty saturated market. There are opportunities within some of the firms, and sole practice is possible (albeit under some guidance first). You'll be pretty much focused on tribunals and Highway Traffic Act stuff, so provincial court. There may be new demand for paralegals within family law, if LSUC ends up opening it up that way.

I'd suggest going to meet paralegals, see what their practice entails and their take on the market. Many younger paralegals were not using their degree to the fullest when I was in town.

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13 hours ago, FarTooOld said:

I was thinking of specialising in education law. Thoughts?

You may want to research whether paralegals have standing and what you would offer.

"Education law" is fairly broad - academic disputes, students being expelled, school contracts/procurement, discipline against professionals, etc. Few law schools offer courses in education law. Looking at Fanshawe, they don't either. It's fairly pertinent given the college strike though

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14 hours ago, FarTooOld said:

I was thinking of specialising in education law. Thoughts?

How, practically speaking, do you see your self making money in education law? Like, concretely, who is going to pay for what services? The only thing that really comes to mind for me is doing academic appeals, but I don't think there is a large market for that. (I realize some lawyers do make a living off education law, but it's a small minority, and they can offer more services than a paralegal.)

I could be wrong, but it may be more realistic to think about services like residential real estate, family law, criminal law, notary services - things many ppl in your community will inevitably need - it's also possible that you work for yourself as an independent contractor but work with lawyers/law firms who need an external paralegal - I suspect many lawyers would be interested in that arrangement.

Edited by conge
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On 16/10/2017 at 8:22 AM, conge said:

How, practically speaking, do you see your self making money in education law? Like, concretely, who is going to pay for what services? The only thing that really comes to mind for me is doing academic appeals, but I don't think there is a large market for that. (I realize some lawyers do make a living off education law, but it's a small minority, and they can offer more services than a paralegal.)

I could be wrong, but it may be more realistic to think about services like residential real estate, family law, criminal law, notary services - things many ppl in your community will inevitably need - it's also possible that you work for yourself as an independent contractor but work with lawyers/law firms who need an external paralegal - I suspect many lawyers would be interested in that arrangement.

Fair question.

I do not require, nor do I want, a full-time income from anything that might come from a paralegal career. I am more interested in representing the 5000 students who, annually, are either suspended or expelled in our city/boards. And, yes, those numbers are true. I would also like to represent students who are not getting assistance in areas of special education such as testing for exceptionalities as they are rightfully due.

I had the opportunity many times in the past year to sit in youth court. One thing I noticed was the number of times students were expelled unlawfully and contrary to the Education Act. It's happening more than is widely known. And, due to lack of knowledge or perceived resources parents hands are tied. Many can not afford an attorney but could afford a paralegal should someone here specialize in such an area.

Also, try finding a reputable firm to represent a student - you can't. They've all been retained at some point by the school board. If a student/parent wants legal representation by a lawyer that understands the Education Act they have to look outside of the city. 

I would be content with an annual income of $20-30K.

So, with that additional information I welcome your thoughts and advice.

 

 

 

Edited by FarTooOld

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12 hours ago, FarTooOld said:

Fair question.

I do not require, nor do I want, a full-time income from anything that might come from a paralegal career. I am more interested in representing the 5000 students who, annually, are either suspended or expelled in our city/boards. And, yes, those numbers are true. I would also like to represent students who are not getting assistance in areas of special education such as testing for exceptionalities as they are rightfully due.

I had the opportunity many times in the past year to sit in youth court. One thing I noticed was the number of times students were expelled unlawfully and contrary to the Education Act. It's happening more than is widely known. And, due to lack of knowledge or perceived resources parents hands are tied. Many can not afford an attorney but could afford a paralegal should someone here specialize in such an area.

Also, try finding a reputable firm to represent a student - you can't. They've all been retained at some point by the school board. If a student/parent wants legal representation by a lawyer that understands the Education Act they have to look outside of the city. 

I would be content with an annual income of $20-30K.

So, with that additional information I welcome your thoughts and advice.

 

 

 

Well at this point I'd have to say you prob know more about this market than I do.

Do you know in what capacity paralegals can represent students in these kinds of situations?

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1 hour ago, conge said:

Well at this point I'd have to say you prob know more about this market than I do.

Do you know in what capacity paralegals can represent students in these kinds of situations?

It would have to be at the level of the school board involvement dealing with suspension appeals, expulsion hearings and appeals. I could also represent clients at tribunals such as the Special Education and Human Rights tribunals.

What I don't know is how many of the 5000 students suspended or expelled annually would seek counsel of any kind. Simple math tells me that even if only one per cent seek counsel that amounts to 50 families a year. But who really knows.

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On 10/18/2017 at 10:50 AM, FarTooOld said:

It would have to be at the level of the school board involvement dealing with suspension appeals, expulsion hearings and appeals. I could also represent clients at tribunals such as the Special Education and Human Rights tribunals.

What I don't know is how many of the 5000 students suspended or expelled annually would seek counsel of any kind. Simple math tells me that even if only one per cent seek counsel that amounts to 50 families a year. But who really knows.

Most don't hire counsel, which is a problem.

It could be a niche market area. There are London lawyers that do practice in the area - Harrison Pensa and Cohen Highley, but those are both very high-priced firms. I think it's Cohen Highley that does representations in front of the Child and Family Review Board. I believe that may be restricted to lawyers as it touches on the CFSA.

I would suggest reaching out to the lawyers that practice in the area and talk whether they feel it may be realistic for a paralegal to expand to.

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Hi there,

I am a graduate of the paralegal program at Fanshawe, and I am currently working as a law clerk/assistant at a big firm in town. 

This is just my 2 cents, but most people I went to school with are not practicing paralegals. I can only think of a few out of maybe 40 people. The market here is very saturated, in my opinion. It is not easy to find paralegal positions at firms. I had a job offer for one paralegal position, but it was a 6 month contract with no guarantee of a full time position.

Honestly, I am happy working as a law clerk and if I could go back I would do the law clerk program instead.

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