PLP403 - Practice Management and Business Communication

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-03-12 00:00:04.741
Last review date 2018-04-10 15:46:16.618

Subject Title
Practice Management and Business Communication

Subject Description
This subject teaches the basic requirements for establishing and operating a paralegal business. The subject also introduces the student to the knowledge and communication skills necessary for the successful management of a paralegal practice.

Credit Status
This is a credit course applicable to the Paralegal Certificate Program offered through the Faculty of Continuing Education and Training.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

1. Compare and contrast the different types of business entities under which licensed paralegals area permitted to carry on a practice

2. Prepare a suitable business plan for a licensed paralegal’s business.

3. Apply the strategies of proper business management according to sound financial principles and in accordance with Law Society of Upper Canada bylaws, regulations and guidelines.

4.  Explain the obligations required by the Law Society in regard to practice management obligations, in particular the requirements of mandatory insurance and trust accounting procedures.

5. Identify the best practices to manage a paralegal firm as required by the Paralegal Rules of Conduct and Guidelines.

6. Exhibit an ability to conduct a client interview.

7. Establish the scope of a retainer in terms of the type of duties and obligations, professional and financial, that a paralegal has to a client pursuant to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct.

8. Explain the types of billing allowed in specific legal matters and explain the basis for charging fair and reasonable fees and disbursements in the retainer.

9. Display a knowledge of referral fees and when they can be given or received.

10. Accurately draft documents and correspondence necessary for instituting and maintaining a client matter; e.g. retainers, reporting letters, authorizations, affidavits and statements of accounts.

11. Apply the Paralegal Rules of Conduct in dealing with the supervision of personnel with an emphasis on confidentiality, scope of authority, and delegation of duties.

12. Exhibit an understanding of the differences between duties of a Notary and a Commissioner of Oaths and display an ability to draft affidavits, and statutory declarations.

13. Explain the various types of privacy legislation in Canada; federal, provincial and municipal

14. Identify issues regarding the Limitations Act and relevant case law dealing with the discoverability principle.

15.  Demonstrate an attitude of professionalism, as evidenced by an ability to meet deadlines, complete assignments and perform tests and in-class assignments as scheduled.

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Execute mathematical operations accurately.

Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.

Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.

Locate, select, organize, and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.

Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

All Modules One to Five Courses

It is your responsibility to ensure that program requirements and course prerequisites as outlined are met. Prerequisites are included for your academic protection. Course content and your instructor's teaching assumes that students are academically prepared and instruction will proceed accordingly. Students lacking prerequisites not only jeopardize their own ability to succeed but present unnecessary interruption. If you lack appropriate prerequisites (or advanced standing for the prerequisite course) you may be asked to withdraw or transfer to a more appropriate course with the risk of academic/financial penalty.

Topic Outline
1. Establishing a Paralegal Business

  • Pros and cons of operating your own business
  • Methods of business start-up
    • Start a new business
    • Buy an existing business
    • Buy a franchise
  • Planning the start-up
    • Form a business ownership
    • Equipment
    • Business location
    • Permits
    • Insurance
    • Employees
  • The business plan

2. Operating a Paralegal Business
  • Managing your business
    • Growth
    • Measuring success
  • Promoting your business
    • Marketing
    • Advertising
      • Rules of Conduct considerations
  • Compulsory insurance
    • LSUC requirements
    • If a claim is made
  • Staff
    • Proper training
    • Delegation
    • Responsibilities as an employer

3. Financial Obligations, Fees and Retainers
  • Paralegal Rules of Conduct 
  • Retainers
    • Content
    • Drafting

4. Practice Management
  • Conflict checking
  • File management
  • Time management
  • Using technology

5. Attestation
  • Commissioning affidavits/oaths
  • Notarizing documents

Mode of Instruction
Students learn through interactive classroom lectures, discussion and group problem solving. 

It is the student's responsibility to save documents, articles and notes that the instructor has provided on Blackboard or in class. Students will not be able to access Blackboard as of the last day of the student's class. 

Prescribed Texts
R. Bromwich, Small Business and Practice Management for Paralegals, Higher Education Professional, 2010, ISBN# 978-1-55239-356-7

Reference Material

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation

Business Plan Assignment 25%
Midterm Test 25%
Final Exam 50%

Materials permitted into tests and exams are at the discretion of the instructor.
Students must attain a grade of at least 50% to pass the course.

Please Note
  • Exams are evaluated on subject knowledge as well as correct language usage, organization, and mastery of the subject.

Absenteeism and Tests
  • Students should be aware that absenteeism will impact on their ability to achieve satisfactory grades.
  • If you miss a test, you must provide the reason in writing to the instructor prior to the next scheduled class. If your reason is accepted, you will be permitted to write a make-up test. Otherwise, you will be given a zero for the test. You must submit an original doctor’s certificate identifying the date, length of time of expected absence and the specific reason for your absence, or other appropriate documentation.

Academic Honesty

Students at Seneca College are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavours. When students cheat on an examination, steal the words or ideas of another, or falsify their research results, it corrupts the learning process. A Seneca College degree, diploma or certificate signifies to society mastery of a set of defined learning outcomes in a designated field of study. If academic credit is obtained dishonestly, the value of every graduate's diploma in the field of study is diminished, as is the reputation of the college as a whole. 

Penalties for Academic Dishonesty

The penalty for a first offence is a grade of '0' on the assignment or examination. The penalty for the second offence is expulsion for a time period determined by the Academic Honesty Committee, normally for a minimum of three terms.
For further information refer to the policies section of the Seneca College student handbook, or to the following website:

Prior Learning Assessment
Please be advised that, in accordance with current Law Society of Ontario Paralegal Education Program Accreditation Policy guidelines (September, 2017, ss. 2.15 and 3.8), PLA for prior work experience is no longer permitted in any of the compulsory legal courses in the certificate program, including the field placement. All students, regardless of prior work-related training must fulfil the requirements of all components of the Paralegal Program.

Approved by: Sandra Noble