Photo: Sadique Alexander graduated from the Paralegal Program at Herzing College Toronto in March, 2019.
There's no doubt about it: Paralegal has become a massively popular career path in Ontario. There are many colleges offering diplomas, and many job options to choose from.
You can join a law firm, start your own practice, choose an area of law that really inspires you...and best of all, help people in need of affordable legal services. But is becoming a paralegal right for you?
If you've been thinking about Paralegal training, but aren't sure about taking the next step, your best bet is to talk with someone who's recently completed the program.
Take a look at this interview with recent Paralegal graduate, Sadique Alexander. Sadique landed in Canada just a few years ago, and decided to switch careers from teaching to law.
He tells us about his experience in Herzing's Paralegal Program, and how he landed a great job at a Toronto law firm, before even finishing the diploma.
Sadique proves it's never too late to start fresh, change direction in life, and train for career that is both in-demand and personally fulfilling.
Here are the highlights from our interview.
Q: Sadique, can you share a little about your background? What were you doing before you went back to school?
Sadique: In 2016, I came to Canada from a small Caribbean island, looking for a fresh start at life.
Before I immigrated to Canada, I was an educator for 8 years, teaching students grade 7 to 11.
When I got to Toronto, I worked in manufacturing car parts for about 6 months before deciding that I wanted to go back to school, and pursue a career in law.
Q: What inspired you to choose Paralegal training? Have you always been interested in law?
Sadique: Paralegal training was my first choice for a career here, because I was not willing to spend an extended period getting prepared to return to the classroom as a teacher.
Becoming a paralegal was my way of being able to help others, while trying something new and challenging.
Law was something I'd always liked, but never had the opportunity to pursue in my home country.
Q: There are many paralegal colleges in Toronto...so why Herzing? What were the deciding factors for you?
Sadique: Initially, Herzing College was not my first choice. I contacted several other paralegal colleges to get information, but my experience with those schools was not very pleasing.
I came across Herzing College through a Google search and decided to request information about the paralegal program. The response was almost instant – a positive sign.
Later, my interaction with the staff in the admissions department was so pleasant and welcoming, that I decided this would be the place for me to study.
The admissions process was simple. I knew Herzing would be an ideal environment in which to thrive and really focus on my studies.
Q: How would you rate the Paralegal Program at Herzing? Can you describe your overall experience?
Sadique: The paralegal training I received at Herzing was very practical and easy to grasp. The instructors took a genuine interest in my education, making themselves available when necessary to explain things that were unclear.
The curriculum and methodologies used to deliver the course material made it easy to learn and remember. We went beyond theory, and had the chance to apply what we learned in real legal settings.
I was able to use the information in practical situations, observing tribunals and court sessions, which really helped to reinforce key concepts. Overall, the environment at Herzing is very conducive to learning.
Q: What about your classmates? What backgrounds and age groups did they come from?
Sadique: In many ways, my class at Herzing was a representation of Toronto itself – a true melting pot of cultures and people from different backgrounds who meshed really well together.
At the end of the program, we all shared aspects of our cultures with a big celebration, which included food that represented our home countries.
The bond formed between my classmates has endured beyond the walls of Herzing College.
I have made lifelong friends. We came to call ourselves the "paralegal family".
Q: The Paralegal program is quite fast paced. What were some of the major challenges for you during training?
Sadique: Indeed, the program was very fast paced. It was constant reading, researching, evaluation and reviewing. However, given that I was coming from an education background, it was not as challenging as I initially expected.
I was able to plan my time for studies and also engage in part-time jobs.
I believe the most challenging portions of the program were at the beginning – getting familiar with the legal system - and at the very end, when I had to put into practice everything I'd learned during the final Advocacy module.
Q: What parts of Paralegal training did you enjoy the most? What were the most interesting and fun aspects of the program?
Sadique: For me it was the daily interaction with my classmates...being able to help others and ensure that all of us stayed positive and motivated along the way.
The time we spent together on class breaks was really interesting, as we grew to know each other outside the formal learning environment.
And I cannot forget to mention the observation field trips to the courthouses and tribunals – these provided much needed insight into the actual operation of the Canadian legal system.
Q: Can you tell us about your Paralegal internship? Was was it like?
Sadique: I completed my internship in March 2019 at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers LLP. It was an interesting experience, because I chose to intern at a firm specializing in an area of law we didn't cover in the program (personal injury).
I made this decision so I could gain more knowledge, and also test how well I could adapt the knowledge and skills I'd learned at Herzing.
During my internship, I had to complete FSCO forms, contact clients, schedule appointments and liaise with insurance companies to get client benefits paid after their motor vehicle accidents.
Q: So, where did you get hired after Herzing? How long did it take to find a position?
Sadique: I was offered a permanent position at Diamond & Diamond Lawyers LLP before I even graduated from the Paralegal program. The offer of employment came one week before the completion of my internship.
I accepted the position and joined the accident benefits department of the firm, working exclusively in the area of personal injury.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering Paralegal training? What does it take to succeed?
Sadique: For anyone who is considering becoming a Paralegal, I would advise them to be prepared for an intense but very interesting and engaging program.
If you take the time to review the material, read ahead, and make good use of class time, passing the program will not be a problem.
The staff at Herzing College is fully invested in the success of each and every student. If you take advantage of the opportunities and support they offer, the program becomes easier despite the workload.
It's simple: showing up for lectures and paying attention to what is taught in class is the foundation of success for paralegal students. This greatly reduces the stress of struggling to figure things out on your own!
Thank-you, Sadique for taking the time to talk with us! We're so proud of your performance in the Paralegal program and your success out in the field.
Learn More About Paralegal Training at Herzing College
Herzing College offers Paralegal programs at both the Toronto and Ottawa campus. The program is 12 months long, including a 4-week internship. Classes are available during the day and in the evening.
Interested in more information?
Click below to explore the program in more detail and chat live with an Admissions Advisor.