As part of it's ongoing Spot Light series to showcase Canadian legal practitioners, uLaw recently sat down with Elisheva Eisenberg-Alter, a licensed paralegal and notary public with a specialization in tax and bookkeeping.
Eisenberg-Alter got her start as a paralegal in 2010 but has also worked in finance before re-opening her paralegal business in 2021.
Q: What's your educational background?
"I have a diploma in paralegal communications, a Law Society license, a notary public certificate from 2020, a Comissioner of Affidavits certificate from 2011, a mediation certificate from 2015, an honours diploma in accounting and payroll from 2017, and two QuickBooks ProAdvisor certificates from 2019."
Q: At what point in time in your life did you decide to pursue the field of law? Why did you make such a decision?
"I went into law immediately after High School. I wanted to help my family and make the world better, Landlord Tenant was one of my greatest passions, having been through it as a teenager with my mother when we lived in a tear down with a slumlord. My second passion was Human Rights having been discriminated against as a teenager for having epilepsy though I did not know it at the time it happened."
Q: What were your reasons for becoming the legal practitioner who you are today? Which areas of the law do you focus on. Are there any trends that you've noticed during your practice?
"I wanted to help people assert their legal voice, I wanted people to know they did not have to let people take advantage of them."
"I recently reopened my business because of several personal reasons where the justice system failed me"
"I saw how broken it was and had no confidence in it. Having come to believe the justice system has no justice I wanted to advocate for people who were not getting justice. In essence I went back into law because I don't trust our laws. "
"My main areas of practice are Human Rights, Small Claims, Landlord Tenant, traffic,and parking tickets. I do help with other areas in many cases if I am asked.While the paralegal profession has grown as has our scope of practice. I still see how so many people take advantage of our laws and abuse the system while others are completely taken advantage of."
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced through your career--where it was extremely difficult for you, professionally, and perhaps daunting? Can you explain your challenges and how you conquered them?"My biggest challenge in my career was setting up my business and getting regular repeat clients. Being I have health issues and medical disabilities I have been self employed the majority of my life. Networking is continuously the hardest, as is marketing. In all honesty I do not know how I conquered it-I just did it. I am a solo practitioner and always have been and will be. I work alone-I do what I need to do. When there is no one else to do it, you do what you gotta do."
Q: Can you remark on any particular court cases and/or regulatory changes/shifts which you've encountered and had to work around while working in the field of law?
"I had a Human Rights client in Mississauga. I went out to his office (I am in North York), he gave me some evidence and I reviewed everything I had during this time, the client seemed very calm. The day of court I had a bad feeling. I learned that during our case the laws had changed and much of our evidence was no longer admissible. I think that was the most humiliating case I ever did."
Q: Please highlight some of the most satisfying moments in this career? Can you give some examples of momentous occasions in your career and describe their significance?
"I had one judge tell me I was worth more than I was charging! I had another judge help me and guide me through my evidence. That was one of my earlier cases and I was the only party as the defendant had been put in default. I remember walking out feeling so warm and it carried me through many difficult cases."
Q: How has the practice of law shifted or changed over the time you've been a practitioner? Where do you see this direction going in the future?
"When I first started practicing the Landlord Tenant Board was very much on the side of the tenant, today I believe it leans more to the landlord."
In 2010 the entire licensing was completely ethics...The college I went to was stopped the following year for not complying with the Law Society. (In 2010) I graduated feeling like I knew nothing and today, I still say that I was self-taught.Today's paralegals graduate with a lot more experience."
"The Law Society was punctual and on top of things. Covid has disrupted that. They lost my respect and I am sure others feel the same. When I first became licensed you had to be practicing for 6 months before applying to be a Commissioner of Affidavits. I think it cost $145. Less than a year later they made it so that paralegals became commissioners on graduating. In 2020 They made it so paralegals become Notaries. I had to apply and get the certificate. Needless to say my wall is much busier than a newbie's.
Q: How do you think the legal profession will change in the next 10 years?
"After more than a decade of fighting, paralegals are on the cusp of getting family law. When it becomes available I will be taking that course to practice. I know many people who I could assist."
Q: Is there anything more you'd like to add about yourself to Spot Light?
"I am a solo mom. I had to close my first legal business due to bankruptcy from my divorce debt which I incurred in exchange for sole custody of my daughter (she is 6 as I write this in 2022)." "Back in the day, my business was my baby. I am no longer married to my business. I have been through many personal horror stories, many of which were because I am a solo mom with medical disabilities. While I am not proud of that, I am proud of where I am today. In 2018 I opened Shevas Bookkeeping and I now operate both businesses from my bedroom office. I love it, it works for me and in the virtual world there is no difference" "Shevas Bookkeeping does QuickBooks, Bookkeeping, Personal taxes and Small Business Taxes. I also opened a Not-for-profit hoping to become a charity unfortunately that did not work and it does not earn me money. However It is my passion it is called The Parents Aid Society. I help parents all over North America. "I help mommies and daddies to keep their children safe" My daughter knows I do this but she remembers some of our many horror stories and loves that I help them. Needless to say, I am against children's aid except for the worst of circumstances. Instead of calling someone in an offer to help them, our village has turned against them." Eisenberg-Alter can be reached via her business website: Shevas Legal Services and Shevas Bookkeeping: www.shevas-services.com