"It was a dream payday for Brampton, Ont., paralegal Vince Chiarelli: He made $1,800 for just two hours of work.
"But for his client, Pamela Elliot, that contract with Mr. Chiarelli would represent her lowest point in a year of sheer hell.
"Having already lost her husband and her job, the 39-year-old single mother was facing eviction from her basement apartment. Until Mr. Chiarelli arrived on the scene, that is, and promised to win her a lengthy reprieve.
"Five weeks later, a bailiff threw her out. Ms. Elliot ended up living in her car for two weeks in wintry conditions, separated from her children, until a Salvation Army shelter took her in.
"In a Superior Court of Ontario ruling that seethes with controlled outrage, Madam Justice Deena Baltman [scroll to end for bio] has ordered Mr. Chiarelli and his company -- Total Management Services -- to reimburse Ms. Elliot's fees, plus interest and legal costs.
"Judge Baltman noted that Ms. Elliot was so desperate that she had to borrow money from her mother to pay Mr. Chiarelli's fee. 'It doesn't take a lawyer, or even a paralegal, to figure out that spending $1,800 to buy five weeks of time is throwing good money after bad,' she said.
"By a coincidence of timing, Judge Baltman made the ruling within hours of a long-awaited bill to regulate paralegals becoming law in Ontario on Thursday. Under the new law, paralegals will be required for the first time to receive training, carry liability insurance and report to a public body that can investigate complaints."
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