The BC Paralegal Association (BCPA) has supported students in VCC’s Paralegal program for 11 years. Here BCPA President Elizabeth Kollias explains the importance of the scholarship and school/association connection.
Why do you think it is important to honour students with a scholarship? Anything the BCPA can do towards professionalizing and supporting achievement on the Paralegal career path is valuable. This scholarship does just that. Since 2011, it has both eased the financial burden and inspired an understanding and connection with the Association.
What is your role in the industry? I’m a career Paralegal of 21 years! I’ve just joined the Litigation Group at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. I’ve also been a part-time instructor at VCC in the Paralegal Certificate/Diploma and the Office Administration Certificate programs for ten years.
As a member of the paralegal industry, why do you think it important is to give back in this way? This is an exciting time for Paralegals. We’re just defining our public and professional recognition, our sense of where we fit in the legal profession. Giving back, giving encouragement to students and prospective members is a crucial part of that process because it fosters connection and encourages a standard of training.
Why do you think students should consider becoming a paralegal? It is an exciting career. Your legal, technical, and professional knowledge base is ever increasing. It may sound cliché, but you get to help people and organizations sometimes when they’re in trouble, and sometimes when they’re expanding in innovative ways.
What is the most challenge part of the work? What is the most rewarding? I work in litigation so dealing with competing deadlines and the associated stress while striving for a work-life balance is definitely a challenge. At the end of the day, and despite the occasional long hours, the most rewarding part is simply doing great legal work for clients and getting positive results for them.
How has the BCPA benefitted from the association with VCC? It’s increased the profile and membership of the Association. In turn, it has let new paralegals know that there is a professional association here to support them. We have a student membership option for those at the start of their education. Our goal at the Association is to advance paralegal and student interests by giving them access to members’ events, professional development courses, and employment opportunities. The BCPA creates a genuine community for practicing paralegals and students in a field that relies on a sense of teamwork.
What is the best part of presenting the scholarship? My greatest joy is hearing back from scholarship recipients thanking the BCPA for assisting them financially and helping them achieve their academic and professional goals. We just received another thank you note from a scholarship recipient and it gives me the warm fuzzies.