"Survey: Admin. assistants important"

Canada's new paralegal regulations study grads

It will be most interesting to compare U.S. regulation with Canada's approach:

"She will be among the first students to graduate from Humber College's first bachelor degree programs. As a newly minted paralegal, Sheelagh McLellan will also be among the first in Ontario to benefit from groundbreaking legislation that will regulate the often-misunderstood profession.

"'I was interested in becoming a paralegal because one of their objectives is to provide legal services for people who may not be able to afford a lawyer,' McLellan says. 'I think the regulation of paralegals is a positive. It definitely gives creditability to our profession and I think it will help me if I decide to one day open my own office.'

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"But the profession is undergoing an important transformation. Under new Access to Justice Act legislation, paralegals in Ontario will be regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada. For the first time in Canadian history, they will be required to receive training, carry liability insurance and report to a public body that can investigate complaints. The regulation comes into force May 1.

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"Mary Selvanathan, a senior legal consultant with Access Legal Services, lauds Humber's program. 'I personally find that Humber's bachelor program is way ahead and once the law (requiring paralegals to be regulated by the Law Society) comes into effect, they are well ahead.'"

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