Amherst cam­pus seek­ing de­fend­ers of jus­tice

Para­le­gal Ser­vices pro­gram bal­ances class­room ed­u­ca­tion with in-the-field learn­ing

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - CUMBERLAND COUNTY - BY CHRISTO­PHER GOOD­ING CIT­I­ZEN-RECORD AMHERST

If a sense of fair play, truth, and jus­tice beck­ons your senses, the first steps to­ward be­com­ing a mem­ber of the law com­mu­nity are just around the cor­ner. The Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege’s Cum­ber­land Cam­pus in Amherst is seek­ing new stu­dents for its Para­le­gal Ser­vices pro­gram.

The two-year pro­gram al­ter­nates the first-year in­take with the col­lege’s Wa­ter­front cam­pus in Dart­mouth and come this Septem­ber a new round of firstyear stu­dents will com­mence their train­ing to be­come a layer’s right-hand per­son, ac­cord­ing to Gail Mur­phy, NSCC fac­ulty and Para­le­gal Ser­vices in­struc­tor.

“They have the train­ing and skills to be able to as­sist in draft­ing le­gal doc­u­ments, in­ter­view­ing clients, go­ing into prop­erty on­line to search prop­erty trans­ac­tions, le­gal re­search to get ready for cases, so they get fa­mil­iar with case law and writ­ing briefs and do­ing a lot of the leg­work to help a lawyer’s of­fice run ef­fi­ciently.”

A grad­u­ate’s fu­ture prospects are not lim­ited to law of­fices, how­ever. Wher­ever there is a le­gal de­part­ment, Mur­phy says, stu­dents are not only find­ing work, they’re re­ceiv­ing of­fers to work.

“The jus­tice sys­tem, Le­gal Aid, Emera – Nova Sco­tia Power – they have come here specif­i­cally to re­cruit, Sobeys. Le­gal de­part­ments, not just firms ... any place there is con­tracts.”

The para­le­gal pro­gram takes in­tel­lec­tual train­ing and matches it with prac­ti­cal train­ing with com­put­ers and ac­count­ing, Mur­phy said, but their jour­ney into post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion does not have to end af­ter two years, ei­ther, Mur­phy said. Af­ter course com­ple­tion grad­u­ates can go into the pro­fes­sion or choose to take their ed­u­ca­tion the next step.

“We have a full ar­tic­u­la­tion agree­ment with the Univer­sity of New Brunswick – Saint John to their busi­ness ad­min ap­plied man­age­ment de­gree. So, if one of your chil­dren wanted to go to univer­sity, if they came and took the para­le­gal pro­gram and they man­aged to get a 70 per cent av­er­age, they could get a di­rect en­try into the third year of their de­gree. So it would be two years of your de­gree at com­mu­nity col­lege prices.”

Who be­comes a para­le­gal? Any­one, Mur­phy says. In her teach­ing ca­reer she has seen age dif­fer­ences up to 30 years – high school grad­u­ates, ma­ture learn­ers and ev­ery­one in be­tween.

“Ev­ery­one can learn to­gether so there is no bar­rier to re­turn­ing to school. There’s no lim­i­ta­tion you are too young or too old.”

Each year stu­dents spend five weeks work­ing in the field for a to­tal of 10 weeks by course com­ple­tion and Mur­phy says it’s no sur­prise when many of the soon-to-be grad­u­ates re­ceive of­fers of em­ploy­ment be­fore con­vo­ca­tion.

The up­com­ing 2017-18 school year is an in­take year for the pro­gram lo­cally, and two ap­pli­cants will be cho­sen for a $1,000 Para­le­gal Ser­vice Ex­cel­lence Award pro­vided their ap­pli­ca­tions to the pro­gram are con­firmed be­fore May 12.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the NSCC Para­le­gal Ser­vices pro­gram, visit www.nscc.ca, or con­tact Mur­phy at gail.mur­phy@nscc.ca.

CHRISTO­PHER GOOD­ING/CIT­I­ZEN-RECORD

Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege Para­le­gal Ser­vices in­struc­tor Gail Mur­phy says the scales of first-year en­try into the pro­gram tip to­ward the Amherst cam­pus this year.

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