Amherst campus seeking defenders of justice

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


Published on May 9, 2017

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

©Christopher Gooding – The Citizen-Record

If a sense of fair play, truth, and justice beckons your senses the first steps towards 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 first-year 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 just 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 chose 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 the 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 ten 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 2017-2018 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.