Why so Many Students Choose Paralegal Training + Possible Career Paths
Dec 22, 2016
Paralegal students at the Herzing College Toronto campus
Career college students are often interested in legal studies because the field is so fascinating, ever-changing, and at its core, focused on protecting our rights as citizens. Students of the law are analytical thinkers, enjoy challenging work, and are oriented toward helping others.
However, in addition to many students’ natural interest in the law, there are economic and professional reasons why the paralegal career path, in particular, has become so popular in Ontario.
Let’s look at the special role of paralegals in Ontario, what’s driving demand for this profession, and which career paths are most popular after graduation.
Paralegal Programs in Ontario are Broad in Scope, Challenging
In order to become a paralegal in Ontario, students must graduate from an accredited program and pass a licensing exam administered by the Law Society of Ontario.
To prepare students for this exam, and a multi-faceted professional role, Ontario paralegal programs are broad in scope and quite challenging. They cover a range of topics, including:
- Statutes and By-Laws
- Torts and Contracts
- Residential Landlord and Tenant Law
- Employment Law
- Evidence and the Litigation Process
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Small Claims Court
- Tribunal Practice
- Provincial Offences/Motor Vehicle Offences
- Criminal Summary Conviction Procedures
Students are also required to log hours of on-the-job training during their paralegal program, so colleges typically include several weeks of internship at the end of training.
Ontario paralegal programs are intensive, fairly quick to complete (most last for about 12 months), and equip graduates with the skills needed to pass the licensing exam and start work right away. The depth of the course material combined with professional opportunities is what makes paralegal training so attractive to students in Ontario.
Job Outlook & Career Paths for Paralegals in Ontario
According to Government of Canada statistics, demand for paralegals in the Toronto region is expected to remain steady over the next 10 years (from 2015 to 2024). The market research shows that increased demand for paralegal services combined with retirements will drive new openings in this field.
Since paralegals in Ontario can now provide a wide range of legal services, at less expensive rates than lawyers, more and more people are turning to them for representation and assistance.
Where do paralegals work?
There are four main career paths:
- law firms
- large companies
- private practice
Many Ontario paralegals start their own business after gaining a few years of experience in the field. They may remain generalists, or choose to specialize in a particular area of law—and become known as an expert in that niche.
Launching and sustaining a private practice is an exciting prospect for entrepreneurial students taking legal studies. It takes a unique combination of determination, strong networking skills, self-confidence, and of course, exemplary legal knowledge—but the personal and financial rewards can be significant.
In a recent interview with The Globe and Mail, Judi Simms, a licensed paralegal and president of the Paralegal Society of Canada, pointed out that private practice can be quite lucrative: “there’s a lot of paralegals in private practice, and typically they say the starting-out rate you can bill yourself out for is $50 to $75 an hour, and go up from there.”
Are you considering becoming a paralegal and want more information about accredited programs in Ontario?
Start by looking into Herzing College’s Paralegal Diploma Program . The accredited program takes just 12 months to complete and includes a 4-week internship. We’re very proud to report that 94% of recent graduates from our paralegal program are now employed in the field!
Visit the program page to view a complete list of required paralegal courses, a video on career options, or to chat live with an academic advisor. We’re here to help!
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