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CHANGES FORTHCOMING IN PARALEGAL LICENSING REQUIREMENTS

According to the Law Society of Upper Canada - the regulator for paralegal accreditation in Ontario, "paralegal licensing processes will undergo a review and revision over the next several months to provide a more robust pre-licensing training and testing system that will result in strengthened entry-level standards."

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"Substantive and procedural law concepts will be added to the existing licensing examination to ensure that testing has more breadth while still maintaining standardized, fair, transparent and defensible criteria."

The Paralegal Standing Committee recommended the revisions to Convocation following the completion of the Law Society’s Five Year Review of Paralegal Regulation and the Legal Needs Analysis.

“The committee concluded that the Licensing Process must be strengthened to support the growth of the paralegal profession as well as the possibility of expansion into other areas of practice,” says Paralegal Standing Committee Chair Cathy Corsetti.

“By introducing more rigorous standards, we will ensure that the public interested is protected, while maintaining the high quality of new paralegal licensees.”

The revision of the licensing examination will require three years for full implementation, with the first offering of the new examination in August 2015.

Revision of the licensing exam will involve reviewing the competencies in the licensing process.

Development and implementation of a substantive and procedural examination for paralegals would follow the highly standardized process that has been used for the development of the current lawyer licensing regime and recent revision to the lawyer competencies.

Since paralegals provide legal services in various different areas, the new competency framework would likely be based on various core practice competencies and also the professional responsibility and ethics concepts represented in the current exam competencies.

The process will involve extensive consultation with internal and external subject matter experts.

Focus groups would include a cross-section of paralegals providing legal services in major practice areas including small claims, provincial offences and highway traffic violations, landlord and tenant issues and WSIB matters.
"Once complete, colleges will be required to confirm and/or make changes to their learning outcomes to ensure the new competencies are embedded in their courses."

Written by: Richard O. Gasparini, B.A., LL.B., 
Legal Faculty Head

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Gasparini is a very much admired instructor in our Faculty of Law at both Brampton and Toronto locations. He is a graduate (with distinction) of Carleton University (Ottawa, 1974) where he received a B.A. in Anthropology. He then continued his studies at the University of Ottawa where, in 1977, he received an LL.B. degree (Common Law). In 1978, he completed the Ontario Bar Admission Course which led to his call to the Bar of Ontario in 1979. While at the University of Ottawa, he was an active member of the editorial board of the Ottawa Law Review.

During his years in private practice (1979-1998) Mr. Gasparini was an active member of the Canadian Bar Association, the County of Carleton Bar Association and the American Trial Lawyers Association. His scholarly work has been published in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal. From 1998 until his retirement in 2009, Mr. Gasparini was a senior member of the ‘in-house’ Counsel team at Canada Post Corporation where his work was primarily focussed on labour and employment law, personal injury and creditor-debtor law. Mr. Gasparini also teaches (or has taught) at Ryerson University, Seneca College (for which he is also the Field Placement Coordinator for the Paralegal / Law Clerk Programs in the Department of Continuing Education), George Brown College and Herzing College covering an extremely wide variety of legal subjects. He was the former host of “Let’s Talk Law”, a popular, weekly television program dealing with legal subjects on community cablevision in Ottawa, Ontario. His charitable work in the community includes a former Vice-Presidency in the Alzheimer Society of Canada. His hobbies include gardening, 19th century literature and music.