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A Q&A with Bachelor of Paralegal Studies Student Laurie Shaw

Bachelor of Paralegal Studies student Laurie Shaw worked at Calvin Barry Professional Corporation as a Paralegal intern for her placement last summer where she applied the knowledge and theory learned in class to everyday practice at the firm.

"Interning for a criminal law firm has been a fantastic experience," said Laurie. "Each day is a day of education, every moment, a teachable one. A criminal law firm can be very fast-paced. Most days there are matters before the courts which include Set Dates, Crown Pre-Trials (CPT’s) or Judicial Pre-Trials (JPT’s). One of the tasks that I was assigned to was writing disclosure letters and doing disclosure reviews. Once I learned how to do this, I sent an email to Professor R. Libman, (The Honourable Justice Libman), with the line, 'It’s all about Stinchcombe' R.v.Stinchcombe – You will learn it!"

Why did you choose the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies program?

I chose the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies program for the in-depth knowledge that was accompanied with an undergraduate degree. It was important for me to obtain an undergrad as it is a good pathway to Law School or Graduate Studies.

What was the draw for you in your academic career? Why do you see this as a fulfilling field?

I love the law and the formality of the courtroom. It’s a place where (for the most part), manners and etiquette are still required. When I listen to the Judge, Crown or Defence Counsel speak, I am in awe of their knowledge. It’s very inspiring! The justice system can also be extremely overwhelming and intimidating. I want to advocate and be the voice for those whose voices may go unheard.

What is the most valuable thing you have learned about work and career?

There are so many different areas of law to work in - from criminal, corporate, environmental, to humanitarian law, you can find your place! Even if you choose to pursue another area of law, the knowledge and skills learned in one are transferrable to another. There is so much room for growth.

What is the most valuable thing you've learned about yourself?

Criminal law may be a difficult area to work in. At times, you may hear cases that are very upsetting. You have to learn to be non-judgemental of all the people who walk through your door. You also need to have great attention to detail. When you're in court, you don't want to miss anything. That one word or sentence can drastically change an outcome.

How did Placement Advisors support/assist you with your placement?

Mary Anne Myers assisted me with my resume and prepping for interviews. I hadn't been interviewed in quite some time and it was a daunting process, to say the least, but with her support, I felt more confident going in.

What advice would you give to future students?

Go to your classes and contribute to them! The world of law is a very small one. Think of your first day of school and each day to follow as your interview. You have access to professors who are lawyers and judges. Reputation is everything. Ask yourself, would they give you a referral?

What was it like working during the pandemic?

During the pandemic, I worked in person from the onset. It was a bit scary at first. We tried our best to keep our distance and follow the protocols with sanitizers and masks throughout the office. Procedures had changed as court matters went from in-person to teleconferences or Zoom calls. I always try to find an upside to situations or circumstances. The upside to this was that it’s the only time I could ever park downtown in Toronto on the streets for free!

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Laurie Shaw