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Melissa Widdifield

Paralegal Candidates
Melissa Widdifield

Candidate bio description

In 2012, I received my Paralegal license. My career has been in criminal defence, provincial offences and regulatory work. I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Ontario Paralegal Association in 2016. I did this so I could advocate for the profession. I learned that real change must happen from within. Paralegals need a voice at the Law Society which will strategically help bring positive change. We need a Paralegal Standing Committee of benchers which are unified.

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

I have a passion for advocating for our profession. When the family law scope was announced I was proud and excited. When Bill C-75 was announced, I knew that something had to be done. I don't want the "one step forward - two steps back" to happen in our scope of practice. I want to advocate for our scope and work with people to ensure that what we currently have isn't jeopardized. I want to defend what we have and be a part of bringing new areas to fruition. I want to be a part of a united voice that works together for the growth of this profession that I am proud to be a part of.

What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?

Access to justice is paramount.

What would be your first priority upon election?

If I get elected I want to work on the following: Begin advocating regarding Bill C-75 and how its going to affect paralegals. Working to get the family law education and scope of practice in place. Work to gain access to legal aid funding for paralegals. Raise the standard of paralegal education. Mentorship is incredibly important. It encourages growth, competence and confidence. I want to ensure that our colleagues have the support, encouragement and access to positive learning experiences.

What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?

Over the next four years I want to ensure that the current paralegal scope of practice stays strong and expands. Small Claims Court appeals, summary conviction offences and family law all require our assistance. I want to work together with fellow benchers to strengthen our education and mentorship so that the new paralegals start their career off on the right foot. Maintain competency within the profession so that we can strengthen respect from the public and our peers.

What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?

Access to justice. We are a profession that the public sorely needs. To have our scope be jeopardized is a step backwards. I want to ensure that the public will have paralegals in their corner to assist when required.

Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?

I do support the statement of principles and I abide by it. Embracing and encouraging inclusion and diversity is always a positive.

Poll Question

What do you see as the top issue that prospective benchers need to address if they are elected?