Prince Edward Island supports over 100 paralegal jobs. However, the Canadian Labour Market Information Directorate lists paralegal as a profession with a “fair” job outlook for the next two years in Prince Edward Island, where the market for paralegals is emerging. Although most of Prince Edward Island’s paralegals work within government departments and agencies, law firms may look to paralegals as a solution to keeping costs down for their clients which would create a growth opportunity for the profession.
Prince Edward Island does not regulate the paralegal profession. There are no entry requirements or examinations that paralegals must complete. However, paralegals must work under the supervision of a lawyer and may not give legal advice.
Paralegals may perform substantive legal work when it is delegated to them by a lawyer. Such work includes legal research, drafting legal documents, interviewing clients and witnesses, evaluating evidence and evaluating the completeness of applications prior to submitting them.
Within an emerging market such as Prince Edward Island, many paralegals may find work without completing a paralegal education program. Instead they will receive on-the-job training. However, once employed they may wish to supplement their training with coursework. As the market grows, paralegals that have completed an educational program may have an advantage over other job candidates. Currently there are no paralegal education programs offered at schools in Prince Edward Island. However, there are a number of internet-based programs.
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Paralegal certificates are tailored to meet the needs of working students and can often be completed in one year. Paralegal certificate programs are focused on preparing students to enter careers as paralegals.
Paralegal diploma programs typically take two years to complete. They focus primarily on paralegal studies, though related classes such as computers or writing may be offered to students. Paralegals diplomas are available through many career and vocational schools and some universities. Some diplomas can be earned online.
Paralegal degrees combine general education classes with specialized coursework in paralegal studies. Students earning a degree typically need four full-time years in which to complete them. Graduates earn bachelor’s degrees.
There is not yet a provincial professional paralegal association in Prince Edward Island. Those interested in helping develop the profession can join one of the two national professional paralegal associations: the Canadian Association of Paralegals (CAP) and the Paralegal Society of Canada (PSC).
CAP strives to represent paralegals across Canada and as such has membership in the Maritimes. One of CAP’s goals is to increase the utilization of paralegals within the legal field. It develops professional relationships with law societies and others in the profession to help increase awareness of paralegals. CAP members also benefit from scholarships, a job bank, seminars and social opportunities.
The PSC advocates for both paralegals and consumers. One of its main goals is to protect consumers by self-regulating paralegals and demanding high levels of ethics. The PSC also works to further the paralegal profession by monitoring legislative activity and advocating for the needs of paralegals with lawmakers.
In many provinces, large law firms hire many paralegals. In an emerging market, large law firms could be good places to approach about paralegal jobs. Prince Edward Island’s largest law firms include:
- Cox & Palmer
- Stewart McKelvey
- McInnes Cooper