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Paula Callaghan

Paralegal Candidates
Paula Callaghan

Candidate bio description

As a paralegal in private practice in Ottawa, I have significant experience in Small Claims Court, Criminal Court, Provincial Court, and before various administrative tribunals. While prior volunteer commitments included working on various committees, including the Ontario Paralegal Association and the former Paralegal Society of Ontario, I am currently the Chair of the Paralegal Committee and sit on the Membership Committee of the County of Carleton Law Association. As a former Instructor in the Paralegal Program at a private college, I have acquired a unique understanding of the challenges facing the paralegal profession, and how paralegals play an integral role in providing access to justice.

What inspired you to run for bencher this year?

I have been interested in the governance and advancement of the profession since becoming licensed. To that end, I have extensively volunteered my time in the last seven years on various committees with the County of Carleton Law Association, Ontario Paralegal Association and the former Paralegal Society of Ontario. My breadth of experience at the highest level of governance in our profession has enhanced my ability to build and promote professional, collegial, and collaborative relationships amongst all levels of our legal community.

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

The "great divide" between the two branches of the profession is one of the biggest issues facing many in the legal community. Paralegals are integral players in the provision of access to justice. I believe the "providing of legal services" is ever evolving to meet the needs of the public. We as a profession must grow with it and find the commonality between the two professions, in order to best provide true access to justice. Let’s move forward together and embrace our commonality for the greater good.

What would be your first priority upon election?

I would start by fostering relationships with my fellow Benchers and LSO staff and learn from their experience. I know what I have on my wish list; but, what I wish for and what is attainable may be two different things. Therefore, I won’t make promises I may not be able to keep. But I will promise, that I will work hard to move the profession forward at every opportunity. Keeping the public interest and protection at the forefront of any issue. I have gained the requisite knowledge and experience on a political and strategic level to successfully fulfill the role of Bencher.

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

- Continued practice in criminal summary offences under proposed changes within Bill C-75 - Support initiatives for expanded scope of practice, within our current scope of practice. - Expedite the development of the new Family Law licence - Removal of exemptions - Advocate for regional Paralegal Bencher seat(s) - Advocate for regional licensing exams - Advocate for a reduction of LSO fees for new licensees - Advocate for student placement enhancement - Advocate for Law association library access in regions where they do not presently exist - Advocate for an expansion of the present legal aid certificates to include the provision of some legal services, in order to facilitate true access to justice - Advocate for an expansion of the paralegal scope in Immigration to support paralegals being able to complete immigration paperwork

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

As a regional candidate our needs differ from the bigger urban centers. An example that immediately comes to mind is the cost of travel and accommodation to write the licensing exam in Toronto. These costs can be prohibitive for many, and is an untenable addition of costs for most students from the east, north, south and west. I would make it a priority to explore the feasibility of holding regional exam sitting(s).

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

Perspective was gained on this issue when, as the chair of the Ontario Paralegal Association’s Government & LSUC Relations Committee (as it was called), my committee was tasked with developing a response paper submission to the LSO on the issue of Racialized Licensees in the Workplace. We surveyed the membership and I have to say the responses were sobering to read and at times heartbreaking. The bigger question we need to ask ourselves is how did we get to the point where basic fundamental rights of equality and inclusion have to be mandated policy. It is my opinion that if the statement of principles helps us as a profession, to look deeper and inward on the everyday indignities, we may be unconsciously (or even consciously in some cases) causing our colleagues, then I am in favour of it.

Poll Question

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