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Paralegal (graduate certificate)

Paralegal (graduate certificate)

Paralegal (graduate certificate)

Passion and integrity gets the job done

When somebody who is dealing with a legal matter goes searching for help, their first choice is somebody as dedicated to their case as they are. Whether you offer paralegal services on your own or work under the supervision of a lawyer, your passion and integrity combined with extensive knowledge of the legal system, make you the perfect candidate to help those dealing with legal matters.

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Program Description

This program is designed for students with previous education. Please see the entrance requirements section of this page for more detail. It is accredited by The Law Society of Upper Canada (Law Society) and meets its rigorous competencies for paralegals.

This program will prepare you for the Law Society’s paralegal licensing examination, which graduates are eligible to write. It is designed to provide the specialized knowledge and skills required to independently provide legal services as a professional licensed paralegal in
authorized areas of law, or work as a paralegal in law firms under the supervision of a lawyer. An exciting legal career awaits!

The graduate certificate program is also designed specifically for individuals who have a degree or diploma consisting of law related courses or three to five years of legal-related experience. Upon licensing by the Law Society, you will be able to provide legal services within authorized areas of practise.

Please note: All licensed paralegals must be members of the Law Society, the regulatory body governing paralegals in the province.

Provincial legislation authorizes licensed paralegals to independently provide legal services in the areas of:

  • Administrative tribunals in Ontario
  • Immigration and refugee law
  • Provincial offences
  • Small claims court
  • Criminal Court, Summary conviction offences
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Admission Requirements

  • Legally related college diploma (Law and Security Administration; Law Clerk Advanced; or Police Foundations) or university degree (criminology; legal/justice studies; or public policy) with minimum 2.7 grade point average (GPA)


  • Non-legal related diploma or degree including minimum three legally related courses with minimum 2.7 GPA


  • Three to five years of related experience (including resumé and references) and an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent

If you do not have the requisite undergraduate diploma or degree, you will be required to submit the following in order to be considered for entrance:

  • At least one reference letter from someone you have appeared before (e.g. judge, justice of the peace, adjudicator, etc.)
  • At least one reference letter from someone you have appeared against (e.g. crown attorney, agency counsel, licensed paralegal or lawyer)
  • Career portfolio which may include past employment certificates; continuing education certificates; evidence of professional training and development; and any other items in support of your employment training as is deemed relevant
  • Letter of interest
  • One reference letter addressing your character and suitability for the program
  • Original transcripts (if applicable)
  • Resumé
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Career Options

Licensed paralegals are authorized to provide legal services in the following areas:

  • Administrative tribunals in Ontario such as the Human Rights Tribunal, WSIB, Ontario Labour Board, etc.
  • Small claims court litigation.
  • Provincial offences.
  • Summary conviction criminal offences; and Immigration.

 As a result of the range of matters on which licensed paralegals may provide legal services, our graduates find employment with law firms, paralegal firms and government, and they may also open their own paralegal businesses.


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Course List & Descriptions

Semester 1

Semester 2

This course focuses on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s (LSUC) Paralegal Rules of Conduct as well as the ethical issues faced by individuals as citizens and as professionals.  It will assist students in clarifying a value system, establishing a framework for ethical decision making, and applying the LSUC’s Paralegal Rules of Conduct to practice as Paralegals.

Students are introduced to the statutory and common law rules of evidence and the basic principles regarding admissibility of evidence. The roles of judges, counsels/agents and the affected parties are examined throughout the litigation process, from commencement to trial. Students participate in mock situations including qualifying as expert, examinations-in-chief and cross-examination and submissions as to costs.

Through this course, students learn about alternative, dispute resolution methods to litigation. Emphasis is placed on negotiation, mediation and arbitration in voluntary and mandatory situations. As well, students examine the objectives, principles, practice and application of different alternative dispute resolution methods

This course is designed to introduce students to the law in Canada.  A brief history of the development of Canada’s legal system and an overview of the sources and divisions of law set the stage for an examination of the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  A thorough examination of the courts and the roles of those in the courts give students insight into the operation of the legal system.  Students are introduced to tort law, family law, criminal law, and administrative law.  This course is meant to give students a general understanding of how laws are defined, created, implemented, and interpreted to give them a strong foundation to build upon in their core legal courses.  

Students examine the procedures in the Provincial Offences Act and act as a court agent or paralegal in provincial offence matters in Ontario.  Particular emphasis is placed on the regulations and documents in a provincial offences matter.

Administrative Law continues to grow in importance as the result of the ever-expanding scope of government regulation and the ever-increasing costs of the traditional court system.  Paralegals may find themselves representing clients before a variety of agencies and tribunals.  There are thousands of such entities at the municipal, regional, provincial and federal levels.  This course is designed to help the student to understand the role of these tribunals by exposing them to the mandate, philosophy, practices and procedures of a variety of administrative tribunals.  The course lays the foundation for Tribunal Advocacy work in the program.

Students will have an opportunity to practice and enhance their writing skills while applying foundational writing knowledge they bring to the course from an earlier diploma or degree program.  This course is designed to provide students with direct career application wherein students will practice the fundamentals of business and legal writing including: drafting, organizing, revising and editing communication pieces and routine legal documentation and precedents. 

This course is designed to have students gain basic legal research skills that can be universally applied to any legal problem.  Students will learn traditional methods of legal research as well as use of electronic research methods.

This is an introductory financial accounting course that teaches the basic principles of financial law office accounting and incorporates the use of PCLaw - a time, billing and accounting software tool designed for use by business in the legal industry. Accounting topics include working with debits and credits in double-entry bookkeeping, and preparing and understanding financial statements.  PCLaw is used to apply the principles of accounting to complete the accounting cycle of a law office. Particular emphasis is given to time entries, billing, disbursements, trust funds and matter management.  This course also interprets the Law Society By-Laws and Rules of Professional Conduct as they apply to financial management of a law practice.

This course examines the Residential Tenancies Act and regulations in detail with respect to the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.  Students will gain a working knowledge of the applicable Landlord and Tenant Board forms for a variety of legal issues arising in the context of residential rental housing, including fault grounds and non-fault grounds for termination.  Students will also gain a thorough understanding of service requirements, time limits, rent control, process, procedure and evidence before the Landlord and Tenant Board as well as the types of relief the Board can grant.

Students learn about the role of the small claims court in administering justice in Ontario. This course provides students with an understanding of the standard procedures in the Superior Court of Justice, with particular reference to the history, rules, practice and procedures governing actions brought to small claims court.  Students work primarily with the Rules of the Small Claims Court.

This course provides an opportunity for students to gain hands-on work experience in a simulated paralegal office.  Intermediate Microsoft Word features are applied to a variety of legal file documents including correspondence and accounts.  Students work within the Rules of Professional Conduct when managing matters related to small claims court, landlord and tenant, and provincial offences. They are also given an introduction to Microsoft Excel software.

In this course students learn about the multi-faceted areas of law which impact on an employment relationship.  Emphasis will be placed on the specific areas of law in which paralegals have historically practiced.  The course is divided into three parts to correspond to the three regimes governing employment relationships.  The first part covers the application of contract law to individual contracts of employment.  The second part deals with the modification of contract by way of statutory rules governing the employment relationship in the areas of health and safety, employment standards, human rights, workplace injury compensation and privacy.  The final part deals with the replacement of an individual contract of employment by a collective agreement in a unionized workplace.

The field placement component is intended to provide the student with practical experience in a legal environment and further, to assist students in utilizing and integrating the skills and knowledge acquired in the program.  This field placement requires attendance by the student in a supervised legal environment.

This course focuses on the professional obligations and responsibilities prescribed and recommended by the Law Society of Upper Canada regarding Practice Management and Operating a Small Business as they pertain to Paralegals.  It will assist students in learning skills and strategies necessary to meet client expectations in professional service and communication, comply with the Law Society and regulatory requirements pertaining to practice management, as well as establish and maintain a financially successful paralegal practice. 

This course examines the procedures involved in acting as a court and tribunal agent/paralegal in provincial offences and summary Criminal Code matters in Ontario. Emphasis will be on the Criminal Code of Canada and the Rules of Court for the Ontario Court of Justice. This course is designed to familiarize students with the particular legal issues and procedures associated with summary convictions and provincial offences.

Students review the rules of evidence and learn the essentials of good advocacy.  They are given an opportunity to apply their knowledge of the rules of evidence and advocacy skills during a mock tribunal hearing.

This course examines the general practice and procedure before administrative tribunals including the burden of proof, the trier of fact, record of proceedings, documentation, the tribunal process and the nature of evidence tendered.  Students will develop the ability to identify and interpret enabling legislation of administrative tribunals and will demonstrate an understanding of the tribunal hearing process and sequence of proceedings.  For the purposes of assessment, students will engage in an advocacy assignment wherein each student must demonstrate competency in opening and closing statements as well as a direct examination and cross examination before a mock tribunal.  In addition, students will be assessed in respect of a group presentation based upon extensive research to the class introducing administrative tribunals before which paralegals may represent a client.  

Courses and course descriptions are for the next academic year and are subject to change.

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Program Costs

 YEAR ONE FEESDomesticInternational
Compulsory Ancillary$1,057$1,617
Program Incidental$25$25
Total Fees:$4,666$14,713

Please note: fees are based on the 2014-2015 academic year and do not include textbooks. For more information please see Other fees to consider.

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Field Placements

Pursuant to the accreditation of paralegal programs, a significant training segment of Durham College’s Paralegal program is the completion of 120 hours of field placement at the end of your second semester. The successful completion of a field placement in a legal environment under the supervision of a licensed lawyer or paralegal is an integral part of the program. 

Applicants should be aware that some field placement hosts require a clear CBC when accepting a student or hiring. In addition, the Law Society of Upper Canada has a good character component when considering applications to write the Licensing examination. Please refer to the law society’s website at for more information.

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Centre for Integrated Justice Studies

The Centre for Integrated Justice Studies (CIJS) is a training function of the School of Justice & Emergency Services. CIJS offers unique seminars and workshops to give DC/UOIT students and the public a competitive edge in preparing them for job searching and interviews. For more information please visit the CIJS website.

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Opportunities For Degree Completion Or Additional Credentials

Qualified graduates can go on to take Durham College’s:

Qualified graduates may also be eligible to apply their academic credits toward further study through Durham College’s partnerships with many Canadian and international colleges and universities. 

Please visit the Transfer Guide for more information.

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  • Program length: One-year
  • Credential awarded: Ontario College Graduate Certificate
  • Location: Oshawa
  • School: School of Justice & Emergency Services (JES)
  • Domestic tuition: $3,584 (CDN)
  • Intake Statuses
    • Program intake status is Open Open: September 2015
  • International Intake Statuses
    • Program intake status is Open Open: September 2015
  • code: CTAP
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