Lawyer: Alternative Careers. A guide for newcomers to British Columbia

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1 A guide for newcomers to British Columbia

2 Lawyer: Alternative Careers In BC, lawyers advise clients on legal matters, draft legal documents and represent clients before courts, tribunals and administrative bodies. They work in law firms, prosecutor's offices, federal, provincial and municipal governments and various business establishments or they may be self-employed. You may find that your international training and experience as a lawyer are not immediately accepted in B.C. The skills you have acquired as a lawyer (negotiation skills, logical and analytical mind, strong verbal communication skills, able to work well under pressure) can be used in these alternative careers: paralegal legal secretary mediator public policy analyst / policy researchers & program officer bailiff Alternative Careers: Paralegal (NOC 4211) Also look for these job titles: legal assistant, a commercial paralegal, conveyancer (real estate paralegal), corporate paralegal, land titles examiner, legal researcher Paralegals prepare legal documents and conduct research to assist lawyers or other professionals. They work in law firms, legal departments in the private and public sectors, record search companies or in self-employment. Duties include: assist lawyers by interviewing clients, witnesses and other related parties assemble documentary evidence, prepare trial briefs, and arrange for trials assist lawyers in preparation for mediation and judicial dispute resolutions prepare wills, real estate transactions and other legal documents, court reports and affidavits research records, court files and other legal documents draft legal correspondence Requirements: a college diploma in a paralegal (formerly legal assistant) program; note: certification as a paralegal is not required in BC other requirements for paralegals may include a bachelor's degree and/or in-house training from a law firm or other legal establishment Skills detail oriented good analytical reasoning skills logical thinker strong communication skills (verbal and written) Wages: median hourly wage: $23.65 Source: Last updated: February 21,

3 Legal Secretary (NOC 1242) Also look for these job titles: legal administrative assistant, corporate law legal assistant, litigation secretary, real estate secretary Legal secretaries perform secretarial and administrative duties in law offices, legal departments of large firms, real estate companies, land title offices, municipal, provincial and federal courts and government. Duties include: handle and format legal correspondence, and review and proofread outgoing documents and correspondence to ensure that the documents agree with legal procedures and grammatical usage type correspondence and legal documents from handwritten copy, messages and dictation (using computers), including deeds, wills, affidavits and briefs gather information, often using online search functions, in preparation for the development of legal documents set up and maintain filing systems, using knowledge of legal records and procedures and frequently controlling confidential materials and documents schedule appointments, meetings and conferences for their employer Requirements: an understanding of legal terminology, legal processes and common legal documents completion of secondary school a one or two-year college program or other program for secretaries or legal secretaries. Skills detail oriented oral and written communication skills research skills Wages: median hourly wage: $19.00 Sources: Career Cruising database (Profile for Legal Secretary ) Mediator Mediators help people resolve disputes through discussion and negotiation. Disputes may be about business or employment contracts, discrimination in the workplace, or family matters such as inheritances or child custody. Mediators may work independently, form partnerships, or work for mediation firms. Duties include: encourage communication between the disputing parties clarify issues and make sure the resolution process stays on track propose options and help parties find a reasonable solution put agreement details in writing and have parties sign the contract Requirements minimum of Bachelor s degree, plus work experience in a related field voluntary registration available on the Rosters (Civil, Family, or Child Protection ) of MediateBC Society lawyers who wish to act as Family Law Mediators must be accredited through the Law Society of BC Last updated: February 21,

4 Skills problem-solving skills communication skills sensitive analytical able to stay calm under pressure and remain neutral Wages median hourly wage $30.00 Sources: Career Cruising database (Profile for Mediator ) Public Policy Analyst (NOC 4168) / Policy Researchers & Program Officers (NOC 416) Public policy analysts study government policies, programs, and laws; most work for governments. They study problems affecting society and suggest courses of action governments can take to help solve them. They give advice to politicians on the social, economic and political effects of government decisions. Policy researchers and program officers research, prepare reports, analyze information, give advice and manage programs in a variety of areas. They work for federal, provincial and municipal governments, educational institutions, research organizations, and consulting firms. Duties for public policy analysts include: collect and analyze social, economic, and demographic data identify policy issues and make recommendations give presentations on the findings attend meetings and negotiations write letters and press releases, and prepare politicians for speeches and interviews Duties for policy researchers and program officers include: research, follow data, analyze information and prepare reports and plans to solve economic and business problems identify and assess economic, demographic, and social developments promote public awareness and education Requirements: Bachelor s degree is the minimum requirement for becoming a public policy analyst. Common Bachelor s degrees for public policy analysts include law and social sciences. Bachelor s degree in a science or social sciences field related to the program area for a Policy Researcher & Program Officer; Masters degree may also be required. Skills: Public Policy Analyst: excellent research and analytical skills ability to understand complex issues excellent written and verbal communication skills Policy Researcher & Program Officer: analytical able to understand complex issues communication skills knowledge of current social, economic, and environmental issues Last updated: February 21,

5 Wages: median hourly wage: $31.93(Public Policy Analyst) median hourly wage ranges from: $ $31.87 for (Policy Researcher & Program Officers) Bailiff (NOC 6461) Also look for this job title: recovery agent Bailiffs serve legal orders and documents, and seize or repossess personal property (e.g. cars, boats, computers, office equipment) from people who have failed to pay the money they owe to companies, landlords, or the government. Court Bailiffs work under contract to the Ministry of the Attorney General to provide civil execution services. They may execute a writ of seizure and sale, order of seizure and sale, a writ of possession and other civil execution processes. Court Bailiffs are legally authorized to enforce civil court orders, including eviction of persons from residential tenancy. See: and Duties include: locate people who owe money serve writs of execution by seizing and selling property and distributing the proceeds according to court decisions find property and make seizures and removals Requirements completion of secondary school Bailiff must obtain a Debt Collector licence from Consumer Protection BC o applicant for Debt Collector licence must pass the Debt Collection examination Court bailiff challenge exams are available through Justice Institute (www.jibc.ca/) basic legal training to become familiar with the laws and statutes that are important to their profession criminal record check Skills physically fit good with people calm and persuasive in difficult situations patient Wages median hourly wage $24.21 Sources: Career Cruising database (Profile for Bailiff ) Employment Outlook For paralegals, job openings in the coming years will arise from new job creation and the need to replace retiring workers. Industry sources report that there is currently demand for paralegals in the province. Organizations that hire paralegals and related occupations, such as those offering real estate, financial, insurance and legal services, are expected to expand as the need for their services increases due to provincial population growth. Last updated: February 21,

6 For legal secretaries, most new job opportunities that come available in the next few years will arise from the need to replace retiring workers. Employment growth is not expected in the next few years, largely as a result of office automation and technological changes that have reduced the demand for secretarial professionals. Some employers are finding it difficult to find candidates with hands-on practical experience and substantive knowledge in the various areas of legal practice. Legal secretaries with training and experience in litigation and conveyance procedures, as well as those with strong computer and communication skills, will be highly sought after. For bailiffs, few new openings are expected in the coming years. The majority of the openings that arise will be due to retirements. Industry sources also report that there are limited opportunities for court bailiffs. Workers are only appointed as court bailiffs if they work for contractors who have contracts with the Ministry of Attorney General to provide bailiff services. There are a limited number of these positions in the province, turnover is low and the work term is restricted to the length of the employer's contract with the Ministry of Attorney General. Career Expected Annual Demand Growth Rate, Unemployment Rate 2010 Unemployment Rate 2015 Unemployment Rate 2020 Paralegals 2.1% 4.4% 3.3% 2.0% Legal 1.5% 4.5% 3.3% 2.1% Secretaries Policy 1.5% 4.3% 3.4$ 2.1% Researchers Bailiffs 1.5% 8.5% 7.5% 6.8% Source: Retraining You may want to consider upgrading your skills to increase your employment options in this field. The following courses may improve your current skill set: Capilano University, School of Legal Studies: Paralegal Certificate /Certificate Online This part-time program is designed for students working in a law office, legal department or other legal setting. Students study substantive law and legal skills courses while gaining their procedural law skills on the job. Some procedural law courses, such as Litigation Procedures, are available as electives. The Paralegal Certificate is available in two delivery modes: onsite (face to face) or online Justice Institute of BC (JIBC): Certificate in Conflict Resolution: Specialization in Mediation/Third-Party Intervention provides in-depth knowledge and skills in formal and informal mediation as well as other forms of third-party intervention 252-hour (36 training days) program is worth 18 credits Last updated: February 21,

7 training hours can be applied towards admission to the BC Mediator Roster and/or applied towards certification by practitioner organizations and participation in the Court Mediation Practicum Program no formal requirements for admission MediateBC Society: Court Mediation Program Small Claims Practicum - mediation training for professionals, allowing them to gain practical, supervised experience mediating civil cases filed in designated BC Provincial Court Small Claims Registries in BC. two mandatory orientation sessions and 10 mediation sessions applicants must have completed at least five days of interest-based mediation training (typically 40 hours in total), including at least 10 hours of role-playing experience. Vancouver Community College: Paralegal Certificate This part-time program helps experienced paralegals and legal administrative assistants expand their professional opportunities; students will learn how to: utilize legal terminology competently identify Canadian sources of law and basic British Columbia legal procedures outline substantive legal concepts in torts, contracts, and corporate/business structures draft legal memos and legal correspondence with clients and colleagues You may also wish to browse workshops and courses announced through: BC Legal Management Association (BCLMA): Events Calendar BC Paralegal Association Searching for Jobs: BC Government Job Postings https://search.employment.gov.bc.ca/ British Columbia public services employment opportunities B.C. Legal Management Association (BCLMA) (click on Job Bank) Law firms Job Board B.C. Paralegal Association (BCPA) Job Bank BCPA Job Bank is accessible to members only Eva Lee & Associates Legal Support Recruitment Last updated: February 21,

8 Indeed.ca Jobs in Law (select support staff ) Legal Services Society (LSS) non-profit organization that provides legal aid for people with low incomes in BC R. Johnson Legal Recruitment Volunteering in the Field Volunteering in the legal sector can help you to explore a new career and learn more about the health care system in BC. You will meet new people and build a network of contacts that can lead to information on job openings and inside connections with potential employers. The following organizations accept volunteers in institutional settings. Canadian Red Cross see Community Support Initiatives Canadian-Universities.net: Volunteer for Justice and Legal Organizations in Vancouver Vancouver.html Groups that focus on justice and legal issues include police services, legal services, and crime prevention; also includes mediation and restorative justice and post-offender rehabilitation. Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, BC & Yukon Division, Volunteer Legal Advocacy Program (VLAP) VOLWEB.ca Volunteer in Public Institutions Many public institutions accept volunteers; consider volunteering for your local municipality, your local school district. Municipalities: complete list of BC cities and towns available at: examples are: o City of Vancouver, vancouver.ca/people-programs/volunteering.aspx, o City of Richmond, https://icanhelp.richmond.ca/custom/501/ School Districts/Boards: complete list of school districts available at: an example is: o Vancouver School Board, West Coast LEAF (click on support us and then volunteer ) Last updated: February 21,

9 a non-profit society that uses the law to further women s equality; works to end discrimination against women using equality rights litigation, law reform, and public legal education. West Coast Environmental Law wcel.org/about-us/volunteer-opportunities West Coast Environmental Law is dedicated to safeguarding the environment through law. Our staff lawyers work with communities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and all levels of governments, including First Nations governments, to develop proactive legal solutions to protect and sustain the environment. Helpful Resources BC Legal Management Association BC Paralegal Association Guide to Mediation in BC, Ministry of Justice. Resume and cover letter help: Networking and accessing the hidden job market: Getting Canadian work experience: Transferable Skills: This project is made possible through funding from the Government of Canada with support from the Province of British Columbia Last updated: February 21,

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