FAQs for Students

There are so many colleges listed. How do I choose which one to attend?

Students should research the available colleges to determine which program and campus location would best suit their needs and preferences.

Aspects of a college that might be relevant to a student would include the program credential offered (e.g., certificate, diploma, degree), location, cost of the program, duration of the program (ranging from several months to several years), proximity to public transit, timing of courses (and how the timing may interact with a student’s other obligations), availability of financial assistance, availability of resources (e.g., law library, legal software, student assistance centres, tutoring), pedagogical approach, nature of instructional guidance, reputation in the legal community, etc.

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I would like to study to be a paralegal online. How do I do this?

Accredited colleges are not permitted to offer paralegal education programming remotely.

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Will I receive the exact same education regardless of which college I choose?

No. The Law Society requires colleges to offer certain core legal courses for a specified minimum number of hours for each core course and requires colleges to offer a field placement, also for a specified minimum number of hours. The courses and field placement must teach students specified competencies, as outlined in the Paralegal Education Program Accreditation Policy. Subject to certain exceptions, the Law Society also requires that instructors meet certain minimum standards in relation to experience and licensure.

However, each college has some scope to determine how it will meet the minimum requirements and whether and to what extent it will exceed the minimum requirements. Accordingly, some colleges offer more courses than others, some require more course hours to be completed than others, and some mandate instructor credentials beyond the minimum standards.

In addition, colleges select their own primary and secondary resources (cases, statutes, textbooks, slides, videos, etc.), determine what resources will be made available to students (financial, educational, health, etc.), determine what resources will be made available to instructors (training in adult education, sabbaticals, legal research and writing opportunities, professional development courses, etc.), and determine what extra-curricular activities will be made available to students (mooting, mock trial competitions, journal, professional development courses, etc.).

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Are my student fees refundable if I change my mind after starting a paralegal education course?

Students should speak to their college and review any applicable law or college policies regarding refunds before committing to a given paralegal education program.

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My college wants to collect my licensing examination fee with my tuition. Is the college allowed to do this?

The Law Society discourages colleges offering accredited paralegal education programs from collecting licensing examination fees as part of a student’s tuition and remitting those fees to the Law Society on behalf of the student. The licensing examination fee is a fee that students are ultimately responsible for paying to the Law Society as part of the student’s registration in the licensing process. As such, the Law Society recommends that students carefully consider whether it is appropriate to delegate this responsibility to any third party, including their college.

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I already have a degree/relevant work experience. I would like to be granted advanced standing. How does this work?

Each college is required to have an advanced standing policy. Advanced standing for compulsory legal courses can only be granted for the same compulsory legal course that the student previously completed in an accredited program. Advanced standing for other courses that form part of the paralegal program (e.g., general education courses) can be granted in accordance with the college’s advanced standing policy for paralegal education. Advanced standing course credit can only be granted for a maximum of 40% of a program’s total courses (i.e., the compulsory legal courses and other program courses).

Advanced standing cannot be granted for work experience, subject to the following exception: where a college’s field placement program exceeds the minimum hourly requirement, the college may grant advanced standing to reduce a student’s field placement hours to no less than the 120-hour minimum.

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The college wants me to take a legal communication/writing course, but I already have a degree in English. The college has told me that I have to take this course as it is a mandatory program course. Why do I have to take this course when I already write well in English?

Colleges are only permitted to provide advanced standing as set out above. Even students with a degree in English may have gaps about the specific nature of legal communication/writing, both in terms of style and content. The legal communication course covers a wide range of concepts specific to legal communications, which are integral to the effective provision of legal services by a paralegal.

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There are only twelve students in my class. If my class falls below the Law Society’s minimum of ten students, does that mean I won’t be able to complete my program?

Colleges are required to maintain cohorts of no fewer than ten students. If a cohort falls below the required minimum number of students, the college is required to communicate immediately with the Law Society. Depending on a number of factors (e.g., how close students are to completing their program; what effect the attrition has on the integrity of the program), students may be unable to complete the program at that college with that cohort.

Depending upon your college, college policies, and the terms of your written contract with the college, you may be able to receive a refund of tuition fees, transfer to another cohort within the college, or transfer to another campus or program within the college. Alternately, another college may grant you credit for your completed courses under that other college’s advanced standing policy.

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I have a complaint about my college. Who can I speak with about this?

A good first step when you have a complaint is to speak with the individual at the college responsible for the issue. For example, if your concern is with an instructor, you may be able to resolve the concern directly with the instructor. If that is unsuccessful or not appropriate given the nature of the concern, you may wish to speak with the program coordinator, who is the individual at the college responsible for superintending all aspects of the paralegal program. If taking this step does not resolve the concern, you may wish to contact more senior administration at the college or the appropriate department at the college (e.g., if the concern is about a disability, the college may have a department dedicated to accessibility, accommodation, and student supports). At any stage in the process, you may determine that it is appropriate to put your concerns in writing.

If taking these steps does not work or is inappropriate, you may wish to direct your concerns to the appropriate individual or entity outside of the college. For example, if your complaint is that a college is not offering students one of the required courses, or that fewer instructional hours than are required were offered, you should email your concerns to the Law Society at paralegaleducation@lsuc.on.ca

Alternatively, if you have experienced discrimination or harassment by a lawyer or paralegal as part of your involvement in accredited paralegal education, you can contact the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel for advice and support. The Discrimination and Harassment Counsel confidentially assists anyone who may have experienced discrimination or harassment by a lawyer or paralegal. The Counsel may listen to your concerns and review your options, which include:

  • filing a complaint with the Law Society; or
  • filing a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Although the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel position is funded by the Law Society, the Counsel works independently from the Law Society. The Counsel keeps all information received in strict confidence. You can reach the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel by:

For more information on this service, please see http://www.dhcounsel.on.ca/en-ca.

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I have a learning disability that makes it difficult for me to learn the material required in my paralegal education courses as quickly as the college expects. Even with the extra hours I am putting into my studies, I am still unable to pass the tests. What are my options?

Colleges are obligated to accommodate students with disabilities in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. What constitutes appropriate accommodation varies depending on individual circumstances. Students are encouraged to contact their program coordinator, who is the individual at the college responsible for superintending all aspects of the paralegal program, or any relevant department within their college to discuss any accommodation needs.

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It sounds like the program coordinator is an important part of my paralegal education experience. What should I expect from him or her?

The program coordinator plays an integral role in the maintenance of an accredited program’s accreditation. In many cases, the program coordinator will be your first point of contact if your instructor or the field placement coordinator is unable to assist you. The program coordinator is expected to ensure, among other things, that

  • faculty members meet required standards;
  • students are being taught effectively and receive instruction in all of the required competencies;
  • students are evaluated and assessed throughout the program and receive timely and effective feedback on evaluations and assessments;
  • the field placement program is run effectively; and
  • the program produces graduates who have learned the competencies prescribed by the Law Society for paralegal education and are sufficiently prepared for continued progression through the licensing process.

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The paralegal education program at my college is too long/too short/too difficult. What can I do?

For any general concerns about your paralegal education program, contact your program coordinator.

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My instructors rarely provide feedback on assessments. Are they obligated to do so?

If you have concerns about receiving appropriate feedback and have already addressed your concerns with your instructors, contact your program coordinator to ensure that college policies are being followed. The Law Society expects colleges to provide timely and appropriate feedback to students.

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 Am I responsible for securing my own field placement?

The obligation to secure a field placement for each student is the responsibility of the college; however, the college is entitled to expect reasonable cooperation from the student. Each college must have a field placement policy in place that sets out the procedure for placements and explains clearly the responsibilities of the college and the student.

Ensure that you review the policy and have met your requirements as a paralegal student. You should also contact the field placement coordinator and program coordinator to seek to resolve your concern. If the field placement coordinator and program coordinator do not resolve your concern, you may contact the Law Society at paralegaleducation@lsuc.on.ca.

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The only field placement that the college offered me is unpaid. I want a paid placement. What are my options?

Colleges are not obligated to offer students paid field placements. Students are encouraged to speak to their field placement coordinator to determine if the college permits students to secure their own field placements and, if so, under what conditions. Colleges are obligated to verify the suitability of a field placement even if the field placement is secured by the student.

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I am about to start a field placement. Can I call myself a paralegal, to avoid getting into too much detail with clients of the paralegal firm?

Pursuant to By-Law 4, a paralegal is a licensee who has completed all the requirements for the issuance of a Class P1 license. Subject to certain exceptions, those requirements include (1) graduation from an accredited legal services program in Ontario; and (2) successful completion of the applicable licensing examination set by the Law Society within the time prescribed by the Law Society. Since a student commencing a field placement has not met all of the requirements set by the Law Society for licensure as a paralegal, the student is not permitted to use this title. The appropriate term to use to describe a student completing a field placement is Paralegal Student.

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I am graduating in two weeks, but the next licensing exam isn’t scheduled until three months from now. Can I write it earlier so I can start working as a licensed paralegal?

There are three sittings per licensing year for the paralegal exam (August, October, and February). The Law Society prepares for each sitting several months in advance, and no additional sittings are available.

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