OACC organized a meeting with the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and representatives from member career colleges on October 15 in Toronto at Herzing College. Career colleges were able to ask questions about the applications to get their paralegal programs accredited. After June 30, 2010, students who apply for a paralegal license with the Law Society must have graduated from an accredited program.
“The paralegal regulatory system is coming along very well,” said Diana Miles, Director of Professional Development and Competence at the Law Society of Upper Canada.
There were 2,557 licensed paralegals in Ontario and another 319 in the licensing process as of October 2009, according to the Law Society. There are 10 accredited paralegal college programs in Ontario. Two are offered by private career colleges – Algonquin Careers Academy and Westervelt College. The other eight are offered by community colleges.
To meet the paralegal program accreditation criteria:
•Career colleges must have a minimum of two full-time, licensed faculty who are members in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada (either a paralegal, lawyer, judge, or justice of the peace) who is monitored by the Ontario Court of Justice, per each campus. These instructors must teach all substantive law courses. Other instructors who are not licensed may teach students in courses that do not address substantive law (i.e. computers, accounting, bookkeeping).
•Career colleges may share instructors between different campuses if they are located in the same city, as long as location and scheduling permit the instructor to be shared while maintaining their teaching, marking, planning and other obligations.
•There’s no magic number when looking at student-teacher ratios, but one licensed instructor for up to 30 students in a paralegal program is a good guide.
•Concurrent vs. Consecutive Scheduling: The Law Society believes “there’s a strong argument for supporting concurrent education for students so they can see one legal course in context with another,” said Michelle Ryan, Counsel , Professional Development and Competence. “But it won’t be a requirement for accreditation at this time.”
•Program assessments: Must be a fair representation of what career colleges are using to evaluate students.
•Internship placements: A licensed provider must “put their stamp of approval on what the student is doing,” said Ryan. The day-to-day tasks of the placement may be delegated, but a licensed member in good standing with the Law Society must oversee the process. Placements listed on the application must be within scope and are checked by the Law Society.
•Paralegal program coordinator: preferable if the person was licensed but it’s not a requirement. The program coordinator can be an instructor.
•Application turnaround: About eight to 10 weeks from the time it’s received. If the Law Society requires clarification of items within an application and contacts the institution for clarification, it should take about two to three weeks after receipt of the additional information for the Law Society to issue an accreditation decision. If an application is denied and the institution wishes to apply again, the entire application must be resubmitted.
“When it comes to the applications, be complete. When you’re not sure about the level of detail to provide, rationalize,” said OACC executive director Paul Kitchin. “On a final note, remember the applications are a mirror of your soul.”
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 @ 10:00 am
To Be Determined
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