Candidate bio description
I have owned and managed businesses and held Executive positions within for profit and not for profit organizations. In these roles, I methodically, prepared and implemented comprehensive business plans to, strategically influence and facilitate the desired results. For 7 years, as an Executive, at POINTTS™ and ACLAiM, paralegal firms, I worked closely with a Bencher and was integral part of the team to advance the paralegal profession and Access to Justice. In 2015, I Founded Shelina Lalji Professional Corporation and became the Master Franchisee of POINTTS™, both in Ontario and Manitoba. For the last three years in the capacity of the Regional Lead, I volunteer with Aga Khan Council for Ontario .I Manage 400+ volunteers across Ontario who are dedicated to improving Quality of Life of the Ultra Poor. I develop policies, protocols and guidelines for the program and strategize and influence policies for poverty elimination.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
I work with some of the most vulnerable families across Ontario and have first handedly experienced the devasting impact on families without Access to Justice. It is alarming that rather than expand the scope, we may set a dangerous precedent of shrinking the scope of practice with Bill C-75 and make it even more difficult for the families to have Access to Justice. It is also fear provoking that thousands of paralegals are not providing legal services due to lack of opportunities, yet hundreds more are graduating every year without tools to succeed. Not to mention, the increasing concern amongst the licensees regarding the lack of equality and acceptance within the legal profession and the governing body. We, as a profession, identified these challenges during the 2014 election and are identifying them again in 2019. The challenges facing the paralegal profession are entrenched and systemic and need to be dealt with in order to advance the profession and for the public to have “true” Access to Justice. As someone who has experienced both the struggles and success of the profession, and can commit to substantial time and effort, I want to give my voice to these challenges.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
Lack of Access to Justice. Advancement of Profession: quality education, scope of practice, acceptance within the legal community. Equality and inclusivity.
What would be your first priority upon election?
I will begin my mandate by consulting with Licensed Paralegals, so collectively, we can work on the focus areas, priorities and specific steps we need to take to advance our profession and ensure the public we serve have Access to Justice. I will Collaborate with other benchers to move our Agenda forward, in a strategic and timely manner, so we are not discussing the same challenges in the year 2023.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
Through Dialogue, I want to achieve equality and inclusivity within the legal profession. Influence the changes to advance the profession through quality education and expansion of scope.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
I am in a unique position to understand the different challenges faced by regions because we have been providing services across the Province for over 3 decades. When you receive hundreds of resumes for one advertised position, regardless of the city in which the opportunity exists, I would state, lack of opportunities for licensees.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
I support the Principles behind the Statement, I don’t believe signing the Statement will change the behaviour of those who do not agree with the Principles. We need to change the culture so there is never a need to sign the Statement of Principles or change your name to be invited for a job interview.