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Home Alumni Wall of Fame Loyalist Graduate Launches Paralegal Career

Loyalist Graduate Launches Paralegal Career

September 29, 2011

Janet VanVolkenburg was living a very full life. She had worked as the public relations and fundraising assistant at Hospice Quinte, an administrative assistant for Quinte Children’s Foundation, a constituency assistant for Ernie Parsons M.P.P., and a piano and vocal instructor at Frankford Public School. In addition, Janet found time to volunteer for a range of organizations and in 2003 she was the recipient of a Violence Awareness and Random Acts of Kindness Citizen of the Year award. Then, while helping her daughter and son-in-law resolve some legal questions while they were building their home, Janet found her interest piqued. She visited the Loyalist College website, researched the Paralegal program and began her career transition to licensed Paralegal. Janet is now employed full time with Reynolds O’Brien LLP.

“When I made the decision to enter college at this point in my life my greatest challenge was fear,” said Janet. “I had been out of school for 30 some years and, although I had taken some night courses, I was concerned about fitting in with the younger students. Tests terrified me and it took a while to get into a routine for homework. I did discover that I had one great advantage however – there is no substitute for life experience and this helped me tremendously. I had the ability to focus and the will to succeed. The fact that our professors all had experience in the legal field was a huge asset. They not only taught from textbooks – they were able to use their work and life experience as teaching tools as well.”

During her studies Janet fulfilled one of her work placements with Reynolds O’Brien LLP. In February 2011, faculty member Jane Bailey let her know the firm was interested in offering Janet a position following her graduation. She accepted the offer and began working part time for them until she finished her semester – and at the end of March became a full-time litigation clerk with the firm. 

“As a litigation clerk I needed to work under the direct supervision of a lawyer,” Janet explained. “I did such tasks as preparing Affidavit of Documents, and helped legal assistants assemble legal briefs, and prepare and serve legal documents. Now that I am a Licensed Paralegal, I can prepare documents, attend court and give advice relating to Small Claims Court, Provincial Offences, Summary Convictions, Landlord Tenant Board, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and other Administrative Tribunals established by the Federal or Provincial Government.

Janet Kline is the Managing Partner of Reynolds O’Brien LLP. “Our firm’s decision to hire Janet VanVolkenburg from Loyalist’s Paralegal program was based on her excellent performance during a placement with the firm as part of the practical component of the program. The Loyalist program, including the practical element which introduces students to the real world practice of law, represents a key aspect of today’s legal system. We anticipate that graduates of the program will play an increasingly important part in the provision of legal services in the years ahead as law firms seek to deliver legal services in an efficient and cost effective way.”

“Reynolds O’Brien LLP has given me the opportunity to apply all of the things I learned at Loyalist,” Janet said. I love the fact that each day is different. The firm is awesome to work for and they have made me feel very welcome since the day I arrived.”

For information about the Loyalist Paralegal program and the Centre for Justice Studies click here.