Virtual law firm created for Paralegal field placement

When Paralegal program coordinator Amy Maycock realized field placements were not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she started brainstorming creative solutions to ensure students could complete the 120-hour block placement needed to graduate and write the licensing exam.

Amy called the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) to discuss the situation and, during this conversation, the idea of a virtual law firm came up. She then spoke with Teaching & Learning Specialist Mary Overholt for guidance on which platform to use.

To give students variety, Amy created a multi-disciplinary law firm offering Landlord and Tenant Law, Small Claims Court, Provincial Offences and, if needed, Accident Benefits. To help develop scenarios and tasks for students to complete during placement, Amy connected with graduates for ideas.

Once Amy had a detailed plan, she submitted a lengthy proposal to the LSO for approval; this is needed for any major change, as Fleming is an accredited college. Once Amy received approval, she felt incredibly relieved and excited to deliver.

“I reached out to faculty and graduates and asked if they would volunteer to be placement principals and to act as clients,” said Amy. “The response was overwhelming; within hours, I had seven volunteers.”

Amy posted the placement position on D2L, held placement interviews online, and then the Fleming Virtual Law Firm was open!

For their placement, students used Microsoft Teams and Webex for communication and rotated through areas of law, spending one week in each discipline. Students completed tasks during their placement, including client interviews, drafting documents, researching case law, preparing legal memos and case briefs, and writing correspondence to both principals and clients.

“I think it was an overall success,” said Amy. “I believe it simulated as much of a real office as is virtually possible. It allowed students to apply what they had learned in school in a virtual setting. By successfully completing the virtual field placement, students can now write their Law Society licensing exam.”

Amy would like to thank her colleagues for their assistance and support: Victoria Orlandi, Janet Heeringa, Alushe Stafa, Kendra Kelly, Lisa McFadden, Vanessa Craig, Barbara Moyle, Diana Collis and Justin Stevens.

“I must give a special thank you to the students who completed the virtual field placement,” she said. “I could not have worked with a better group of students, and I thank them for entrusting me to get them to the finish line.”