The body of knowledge required to effectively perform paralegal support services can be gained from a formal education in paralegal studies. As attorneys, law offices, corporations and government agencies strive to work within an increasingly complex legal framework, the breadth of responsibilities given to the legal assistants they employ have increased accordingly. Law offices, as well as other private and public sector employers in Nova Scotia, are now more often turning to paralegals who have demonstrated competence through formal education.
Nova Scotia’s Legal Professions Act stipulates that if you want to work as a paralegal then you must do so under the direct supervision of a practicing lawyer. As of this writing there are no additional education or experience requirements. However the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society stated in its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan that it will study the prospect of developing paralegal regulation throughout the province.
It’s hard to predict which direction paralegal regulation is moving in Nova Scotia, and there are varying precedents throughout Canada. One province requires paralegals to fulfill specific education requirements, whereas other provinces have no regulations whatsoever.
If paralegal regulations are introduced in Nova Scotia there’s a good chance they could include education requirements. And even if they don’t, completing a relevant program of study can still be strategically advantageous.
For one, it can improve your professional mobility nationally. You may be able to transfer academic credit towards fulfilling another province’s paralegal education requirements.
And in addition to distinguishing yourself from your competition, paralegal education programs teach you about a range of critical topics from how to create your résumé to using databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw; valuable skills that potential employers recognize.
There are two paralegal diploma programs in Nova Scotia that each provide more than a year of focused study that culminates with field experience segments. You can also find several relevant bachelor’s degree programs throughout the province. Paralegal education opportunities in Nova Scotia typically require the completion of secondary school up through grade 12 as an admission requirement, including the ones we’ve detailed below.
Nova Scotia Community College – Paralegal Diploma
NSCC’s two-year paralegal diploma program is offered from its Ivany Campus in Dartmouth. Highlights include a portfolio you’ll develop that showcases your achievements and skills for prospective employers, and two five-week work experiences that give you an opportunity to gain real-world paralegal experience in a supervised setting. Courses cover topics like the Canadian legal system and several different areas of law including corporate, criminal, and more.
Eastern College – Paralegal Diploma
Eastern College’s 77-week paralegal diploma program is offered in Nova Scotia on its Halifax campus.
An eight-week field placement gives you an invaluable opportunity to put didactic knowledge into practice under the guidance of a supervisor. This program is proud of its 96% graduate employment rate, with alumnus moving on to work at prominent law firms, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Attorney General. Family, criminal, real estate, business, and commercial law are just some of the areas that are covered in the curriculum.
Cape Breton University – Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Legal Studies Concentration
Legal management and legal risk identification are two central themes in CBU’s four-year campus-based BBA degree with a focus in Legal Studies. This program is flexible, giving you the opportunity to hone in on a particular aspect of legal studies such as criminal, business, employment, public health, research, or administrative law. Regardless of how you tailor your classes you’ll emerge with an in-depth understanding of the Canadian justice system and the inner-workings of its different levels of courts.
Dalhousie University – Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Law, Society and Justice
DU’s four-year BA in Law, Society and Justice program is offered from its Studley Campus in Halifax. This program emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to learning about Canada’s legal system, human rights, and the processes of justice, offering a well-rounded education drawing from inter-related fields. Start dates are available in January and September. Students emerge prepared for careers in the public and private sectors. DU also offers a minor in Law and Society.
Saint Mary’s University – Bachelor of Arts (BA)/Minor in Criminology
SMU’s four-year BA program in Criminology can be a good fit for any prospective paralegal and especially those interested in criminal law. Offered from the school’s Halifax campus, courses cover topics like the Canadian criminal justice system, research methodologies, policing in society, organized crime, and hate crimes, among others. Quality is a premium at Saint Mary’s University: all full-time and adjunct faculty in the Department of Criminology hold a doctoral degree.