Have you been thinking about becoming a paralegal, but need a bit of a push to get the ball rolling with training and licensing? This post is for you.
There's a big leap between watching Scandal or Law & Order, and feeling really excited about starting a legal career—and actually researching colleges and enrolling in a paralegal program!
Many people get stuck in that gap, and it takes them years to finally start training and get their career off the ground.
Admittedly, watching legal dramas is definitely more fun than sorting through admission requirements, figuring out a class schedule, and paying tuition—but that's all part of transitioning back to school, and finding a profession you can really feel proud of.
Looking for inspiration to get off the couch and get moving toward your goal of becoming a paralegal?
We're sure you have your own reasons for pursuing this career path, but here are 7 more really good ones, to help you power through your next steps.
1. You can finish paralegal training in just 12 months
Going back to school will take up a lot of your time—time you may already have a hard time dividing between work, friends, and family.
One of the top advantages of becoming a paralegal is the wide availability of very fast, 12 month training programs.
Many Ontario colleges offer 1-year paralegal diplomas, specifically designed to get you career-ready as quickly as possible—as opposed to spending years earning a degree and pursuing law school.
As long as you're ready to work hard and fully commit to intensive study, paralegal training will fly by, and before you know it, you'll be writing the Law Society of Ontario licensing exam.
2. You'll be empowered to represent clients in court
The best thing about becoming a paralegal in Ontario is the special status you'll have compared to your peers in other parts of Canada.
Ontario paralegals are empowered to help people directly, and can represent clients in small claims court and a range of tribunals (such as the Human Rights, Landlord and Tenant, Immigration and Refugee, and Workplace Safety tribunals).
The ability to see a case through, from start to finish, and make a real impact in the lives of clients, is a huge motivator for most paralegals.
You're not assisting with research and paperwork. You're running the case.
3. You can start your own paralegal practice
Dream of one day owning your own business? Want to decide for yourself what kinds of cases you take on, how many hours you work, and what areas of law you specialize in?
You have those options as a paralegal in Ontario.
Granted, running a successful paralegal practice takes business savvy and serious work, but it's an incredible opportunity to steer your own ship and determine your own earning potential.
Many Ontario paralegals seem to agree. The latest report from Statistics Canada shows that 11% of all paralegals in the province are self-employed (which is above the average for all occupations).
Don't know the first thing about starting a business?
Your paralegal training will include courses on practice management, marketing and advertising your paralegal services, computerized accounting, and digital file management.
4. Choose from a range of employment options
Don't see yourself running your own practice? No problem. You'll have plenty of other employment options after becoming a paralegal.
Paralegals can find work in government, they get hired by law firms, and can join an in-house corporate legal team. There are many opportunities to specialize in a particular area of law, and focus on the kind of legal work you find most inspiring.
5. You'll be helping people access affordable, expert legal advice
Retaining a lawyer is expensive, and for some people, completely out of the question. Although paralegals make competitive salaries, they don't charge as much as lawyers do, and are therefore much more accessible to the average person.
If you're passionate about the law, and believe everyone has a right to skilled legal representation, you can play an important role in bringing that service to deserving clients (who would otherwise be unable to afford a lawyer).
Paralegals in Ontario ensure more people get expert, affordable legal help. They are a powerful force in the legal industry, and as regulations evolve, there's a good chance their scope of practice will continue to expand.
The Law Society of Ontario is now considering allowing paralegals to offer family law services. At this point, because lawyers are so expensive, 57% of Ontarians end up representing themselves in family court.
Nothing is confirmed yet, but this move signals the growing importance of paralegals in Ontario, and is a step forward to increasing the services they can offer going forward.
6. There is steady demand for paralegals in Ontario
The latest market report from the Government of Canada Job Bank shows steady demand for paralegals in Ontario.
Of course, you can expect to compete for jobs as a new graduate, particularly if you're starting a practice from scratch, but the general outlook is positive for the province.
Demand for affordable legal services is the key driver here, as more people seek out alternatives to high-priced lawyers.
7. Paralegals earn competitive wages in Ontario
A 2018 salary report from the Government of Canada shows that many paralegals in Ontario are making well above the national average salary of $51, 000/year.
The median salary for paralegals currently sits at about $52, 000/year, and at the top end of the pay scale, they're making close to $90, 000/year.
Those are fairy competitive salaries, particularly if you consider that paralegal programs in Ontario take just one year to complete—and admission requirements are not too difficult to meet.
Take the next step: learn more about paralegal training
If you're feeling motivated to get the ball rolling, and learn more about your paralegal training options, there are a couple of important steps to take next.
First of all, make sure you fully understand how paralegal programs work, what you'll be learning in class, and what you need to apply.
We strongly recommend meeting with a college advisor who will walk you through all the details. This is the best way to know for sure that this training path is right for you (and a wise investment).
We meet with potential paralegal students every day to offer guidance and support. Even if you don't end up choosing Herzing, we're happy to help you understand your options, and plan your next move.
Chat live with an Advisor right now, or click below to explore the program in greater details.