Candidate bio description
Learning work ethic, integrity and persistence was mandatory growing up. In a single parent home, living barely on the poverty line I was relied on to contribute to the best of my ability as soon as I was able. Working full time while attending high school certainly built character, and taking custody of my 1 year old daughter at 18 years old definitely contributed to my "never back down attitude". The goal was to go to get out of the small town, go to University, and then Law School and change my family's future and outlook, but my Daughter's care took priority and I chose a different career path with the mind frame "this is only temporary". At the age of 18 I became a licensee of FSCO, issuing life insurance policies, advising individuals on investment regulations and interests, and helping them determine how to best set their life up for retirement. After 6 years of Financial Services work, I used personal savings to open and run a sales and marketing company which specialized in organizing sales forces and outsourcing product marketing. 3 years of hard work and success followed, and I still felt like something was missing. I decided and was able to pursue my dream of being educated in Law, by enrolling in Paralegal Studies. After graduating, I interned, and was subsequently hired, at a Law office practicing criminal & family law out of St. Catharines. I received my License to practice and provide Legal Services on June 4th, 2018, after 12 years of making the best of careers I was not passionate about and 12 years of trying to fight for my family's future while feeling uninspired. I immediately opened YOUR Legal Services. Since inception I have expanded to 3 licensee's in total, 2 assistants and a potential 4th Licensee to come.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
I am a true believer that if you don't fight for everything, you will end up with nothing, because nothing worth while ever comes easy. As a newly minted Practitioner, I still have a very clear unwavering view of how I would like to see our profession grow. I was inspired to run when the talks of Bill C-75 became more concrete and the very area of Law that inspired me to practice and has lead to my helping 100's of people so far, is being jeopordized. I was further inspired when realizing many issues surrounding education, our lack of equality within convocation and governance.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
It is my belief that Access to Justice is paramount, but I am sure that is every Paralegals foremost thought. But to be specific, I think the largest issue within that very generalized phrase of "access to justice" is how both Paralegals and Lawyers can better assist the public and each other, and that just providing new ways for individuals to "do it themselves" may be the easiest answer but not always the best.
What would be your first priority upon election?
My priority would not only to fight and advocate on behalf of our, what seems to be, dwindling scope, and ensure that our services are properly utilized rather than pigeonholed. I would seek to not only support contingencies to aid the survival of our criminal law scope but also look to properly educate and streamline our involvement.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
-Fortify and capatlize a paralegal's scope. -advocate and lobby to have paralegals accept legal aid certificates within our scope, rather than solely funding legal clinics for Tribunal work. -review and help develop greater education materials for practice areas . -Fight for equality among paralegal and lawyer bencher's. -Look to implement longer placements for Paralegal Candidates, and more focus on competencies. -Seek to lobby for timelines to be put within the crown attorney act, to put mandatory deadlines on the election of Hybrid offences.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
I feel the most pressing concern in my region, and I would assume in regions similar in size to Niagara, would be how paralegals limit themselves and isolate themselves within a specific tribunal or provincial offences court. I understand and appreciate sometimes this occurs as a matter of preference, but many people I have spoken to have either felt ill prepared or forced out of practice areas where we could provide services to individuals who need the help.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
Yes I believe it creates a goal for a licensee to govern themselves by, much like a company would create a mission statement. Ultimately the statement is created at our discretion, but keeps our minds focused and open to inclusion and equality.