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FAQs for Paralegal Education Programs

  • Accreditation and Discontinuance
    • Are accreditation and reaccreditation fees refundable?

      Accreditation and reaccreditation fees are generally not refundable. For example, they are not refundable in the following circumstances:

      • when an application fails a technical or full review;
      • when an accredited program is later discontinued by an institution;
      • when an accredited program has its status suspended or terminated by the Law Society; and
      • when an accredited program has its institutional registration or program approval suspended or terminated by the MCU.

      Colleges accredited for the first time that determine that they will not offer the program have 12 months after receiving accreditation to request a refund of the accreditation fee. Once a refund is requested, the college’s accreditation is automatically terminated. For all refund requests, a minimum administration fee will be levied, plus an amount for each additional campus location. This refund does not apply to a college that has previously offered an accredited program at any campus location.

    • We plan to discontinue our paralegal education program. What are the Law Society’s requirements?
      The college must notify the Law Society in writing if it intends to discontinue a program at one or more locations. The Major Change Form (Form 6) must be used for this notification. If a paralegal cohort is in the midst of its studies at the time of the notice, the college must specify the date that the cohort will complete its studies and provide a comprehensive plan describing how quality and quantity standards will be maintained until the cohort’s graduation. No new students may be enrolled in the program after the college sends a notice of discontinuation. The college cannot withdraw or revoke a notice of discontinuation. Discontinuation information will be noted on the Law Society’s website. To restart a program after discontinuation, the college must restart the accreditation process.
  • Declarations and Intake Dates
    • May we reschedule an intake date?
      No, intake dates may not be rescheduled. If a college skips an intake date, the only other permissible intake dates are those the college has declared to the Law Society.
    • We skipped an intake date because of insufficient enrollment. Will this affect our accreditation status?
      At any time, if 12 months pass without a new cohort at a given campus location, and there is at the end of the 12-month period no other cohort in progress at that location, the program is deemed to be dormant, and accreditation at that location is deemed to expire automatically. No new students may be enrolled once accreditation has expired as a result of dormancy. To restart a program after dormancy, the college must restart the accreditation process.
    • What declarations are required by the Law Society?

      Colleges are required to submit the following declarations and confirmations in accordance with the stated time frames.

      • Annual Declaration

        By December 31 of each year, colleges must attest to their program’s compliance with Law Society requirements and declare their program’s intake dates for each session for the following calendar year. Additional requirements apply where a program coordinator manages more than one campus location. Colleges are directed to the Paralegal Education Program Accreditation Policy for further details

        This declaration is to be made using the Annual Declaration Form (Form 7).

      • Cohort Composition Declaration

        At least six weeks before the start of a new cohort, the college must declare the specific date, specific session (e.g., full-day, morning, afternoon, or evening) and number of students enrolled for that intake date. Only individuals formally enrolled count toward this requirement.

        This declaration is to be made by email to paralegaleducation@lso.ca.

      • Cohort Composition Confirmation

        At least one week before the start of a new cohort, the college must either confirm that the new cohort will begin or notify the Law Society that there will be no new cohort. If the cohort will begin, the college must declare the number of students enrolled for the cohort for that intake date. Only individuals formally enrolled count toward this requirement. Cohorts that do not meet the minimum of 15 students at least one week prior to the intake date are not eligible to proceed.

        This confirmation is to be made by email to paralegaleducation@lso.ca.

      • Cohort Completion Declaration

        For each cohort finishing its studies, the college must declare the number of students that have completed the academic portion of the program. If the field placement takes place at the end of the program, this declaration is to be made at the conclusion of the cohort’s in-class studies. The declaration must reflect the number of students in a given cohort who have completed their mandatory coursework and not necessarily the number who have graduated. This declaration must be made for each cohort within two weeks of the cohort’s completion of the mandatory coursework and must include the cohort’s session.

        This declaration is to be made by email to paralegaleducation@lso.ca.

    • Are we permitted to enrol new students between the Cohort Composition Declaration and the Cohort Composition Confirmation?
      Yes, colleges are permitted to enrol new students between the cohort composition declaration (declared at least 6 weeks before the start of a new cohort) and the cohort composition confirmation (made at least 1 week before the start of a new cohort).
  • Courses
    • Are we permitted to offer a grouping of non-mandatory courses before or after the paralegal program during which the minimum cohort size requirement does not apply and/or new students may be added?

      Yes, but the college must meet the following conditions:

      • The pre- or post-program course group must be a distinct offering from the accredited program and must not include any subject matter within the compulsory legal courses.
      • The accredited program must contain a minimum of 710 hours of classroom instruction, exclusive of pre- or post-program studies. These 710 program hours must include a minimum of 590 compulsory legal course hours plus 120 hours of additional legal and/or non-legal content.
      • No student may be enrolled as a member of the cohort after the start of the cohort.
      • If fewer than 15 students start their pre-paralegal studies before the college’s six-week cohort composition declaration and the college fails to enroll the minimum 15 students at least one week prior to the start of the accredited program, these students will not be able to commence their paralegal studies until a future intake date.
    • We want to change our course sequencing. What should we do?
      A change to course sequencing is considered a major change to a program. Colleges must use the Major Change Form (Form 6) to notify the Law Society of an intended change prior to implementing the change. The Law Society will consider the proposal and advise if the change is permitted.
    • We want to grant a student advanced standing for paralegal program coursework based on the student’s work experience. Is this permitted?
      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 submitted advanced standing policy. 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).
    • We want to teach some of the competencies for one course in a different course. Is this permitted?
      Each compulsory legal course must provide sufficient instructional time and attention to that course’s competencies. However, if a college divides a compulsory legal course into two (e.g., dividing Torts and Contracts into a torts class and a contracts class), then the college may teach the competencies associated with contracts in the contracts component and the competencies associated with torts in the torts component. In addition, a competency for one course may be taught in multiple courses in order to reinforce or build upon the learning of the competency (e.g., the competency related to understanding property law in Introduction to the Legal System may also be taught in Torts and Contracts).
  • Field Placement
  • Faculty
    • One of our two full-time faculty members recently quit without notice. What should we do?
      This constitutes a major change, and the college must immediately notify the Law Society of this change using the Major Change Form (Form 6). The college must identify how this change affects the effectiveness and integrity of the program and must detail what steps it is taking to rectify the situation as soon as reasonably possible.
    • We consider our contractors to be full time if they instruct classes for four or more hours per day, but the definition of “Full-Time Faculty Member” does not specify the number of hours of instruction per day required. Are our contractors considered full time?

      Contractors and part-time employees may be deemed to be “Full-Time Faculty Members” in paralegal education programs. To be considered a “Full-Time Faculty Member” for the purposes of meeting the Law Society’s requirement that colleges have two full time faculty members per campus, the licensee must be either (i) a full- time employee of the college who dedicates the majority of his or her employment time to the accredited program or (ii) a contractor or part-time employee of the college who performs a combination of instructional and non-instructional duties in respect of the accredited program at a single campus location for no fewer than 532 hours for each accredited program offered to each cohort.

      Where a college offers only the minimum number of classroom hours for an accredited program (710 hours), a contracted instructor or part-time employee of the college who teaches exactly 50% of a cohort’s classes for four hours per day, but performs no additional duties in the program, would not meet the 532-hour threshold (that individual will have only performed 355 hours of classroom work). However, if that same instructor also performed non-instructional duties for 177 hours in the program for that cohort, the instructor would meet the threshold. Such non-instructional duties may include curriculum review and updating, research into appropriate texts and other instructional resources, lesson planning and refinement, development of instructional tools, legal research, assessment development and review, assessment marking, and extra-curricular activities (such as tutoring or student skills development or participation in program related faculty meetings or committees).

      An individual who is a full-time employee of the college who dedicates the majority of his or her time to the accredited program would also be considered a Full-Time Faculty Member, even if, for example, that individual also teaches a course in another department or offers legal services on an occasional basis.

    • What is the role of the program coordinator?

      The program coordinator, who must be a licensee of the Law Society, plays an integral role in the receipt and maintenance of a program’s accreditation (for details, please see “Program Coordinator and Field Placement Coordinator” in the Paralegal Education Program Accreditation Policy). 

      The program coordinator is responsible for monitoring, coordinating, and controlling accredited program standards and is the Law Society’s primary point of contact with the college.

      Among other things, the program coordinator is expected to ensure 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.
    • Why are we required to have at least two full-time faculty members per campus?
      Colleges are required to have at least two full-time faculty members per campus in order to ensure that sufficient resources are dedicated to the maintenance of the program following accreditation. The Law Society expects that full-time faculty members will be able to dedicate a certain amount of their time to non-instructional duties relevant to program maintenance. Such duties may include curriculum review and updating, research into appropriate texts and other instructional resources, lesson planning and refinement, development of instructional tools, legal research, assessment development and review, assessment marking, and extra-curricular activities (such as tutoring or student skills development).
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