This is an introduction to our new series entitled: “Paralegals from Around the World.” Here at The Paralegal Society, we plan to feature articles from paralegals here and there — and darn near everywhere! It will be a fun and educational journey for all of us. So buckle up, TPS readers…today…we’re off to Canada!!
By: Joseph Basaran (Guest Blogger)
The U.S. and Canada are basically brother countries because they share the same soil; same people (European settlers), speak the same language and use almost the same legal system for that reason. What divided them in the past was that the European settlers in above North American states (Niagara, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, B.C, Ontario etc.) did not agree with their brothers to make the continent one country because they wanted to stay loyal to the King of England.
For that reason, the U.S. created its own independent legal system from England. Their brothers in Canada continued to use the English legal system, but in 1876, they said that is enough, we are creating our own declaration of independence (the Constitution Act of 1876 and 1982), which separated England and Canada. Ever since, paralegals have played huge roles in the legal system of both sides of the U.S and Canada, by sharing the job volume with attorneys.
Until 2006, paralegals were working on their own as agents in Ontario and courts had the right to expel them from hearings if they believed that an agent was incompetent. Some public members were misled by unregulated agents because there were no organizations that they were accountable to and thus, they did not have worry about the quality of their work.
However, many of paralegals (agents) were doing a decent job and interestingly representing the public in the wide variety of matters, including family and immigration matters. In 2006 -2007, Government passed a bill called “Access to Justice Act” and begun regulating paralegals.
The first batch of experienced and senior paralegals were given an opportunity to become licensed by the law society without being mandated taking academic education because of their substantial experience in the field. However, afterwards, all new paralegals are asked to complete paralegal education, pass reference check, submit articling hours and finally pass paralegal bar exam offered by the law society. If you are successful, you will be given a picture law society ID just like lawyers are given and a wall law society license, which is quite cool.
In Ontario, licensed paralegals can proceed before Small Claims Court, State Offences under criminal code of Canada, and any tribunal established under either a federal or state Act, and Immigration matters.
In order to be a paralegal, a person must complete an accredited institution program and submit their hours and marks to the law society for their paralegal bar examination.
Mr. Basaran attended Everest College of Toronto from 2007 to 2008 where he received a diploma with Honours in Paralegal Studies and a perfect attendance certificate. During his study at Everest College, Joseph was accepted by Toronto Police Service, legal services branch and a private law firm as a student paralegal to complete his internship
In 2008, Joseph successfully passed his paralegal licensing examination. In January 2009, Mr. Basaran established his own company called “the Paralegal Office of Joseph Basaran”, in Toronto. In 2010, Joseph completed his continuing academic education with the University of Toronto, in leadership essentials program with 95% average. In 2011, Mr. Basaran begun teaching paralegal program at colleges in Ontario and still continues this honorable position with passion. In addition, Mr. Basaran has extensive law enforcement background for over nine years’ experience with government and private security agencies.
Just imagine seeing paralegals in action in the courtroom. How exciting!
Be honest…did you realize that Canadian paralegals can actually represent clients in a court of law? Before reading this piece, did you realize there was such a substantial difference between paralegals in the U.S. and Canada? What are your thoughts TPS readers? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or share a thought.
A special thank you to Joseph for sharing this article with us. We look forward to joining all of you for another journey around the world soon!