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LSUC articling task force report calls for alternative to current program

|Written By Heather Gardiner

The Law Society of Upper Canada’s articling task force has released its final report on the articling shortage in Ontario.

The report, “Pathways to the profession: A roadmap for the reform of lawyer licensing in Ontario,” recommends a five-year pilot project, to begin in 2014, for a “Law Practice Program” as an alternative option to the current articling program.

The LPP, to be delivered by a third-party provider, would combine a skills-training component and a co-op work placement for a total of eight months. The report states that providers would be encouraged to find paid placements for candidates, but payment is not guaranteed as it is with most articling positions. The task force suggests that additional costs of the LPP should be distributed amongst all candidates, not just those who are taking it.

The current articling program would still be available, but with additional measures enforced.

The report also calls for a final assessment for all candidates — regardless of the option they choose — to test their practical skills before being licensed.

Four members of the task force, however, do not agree with these recommendations. Instead, they would like to get rid of articling altogether and have one licensing path for everyone via a two- or three-month transitional training program that would include online courses and exams to assess candidates’ knowledge of core competencies to being a lawyer.

The law society will be broadcasting a public webcast of the debate at Convocation on the articling task force report on Oct. 25 at 9:30 a.m.

  • Malcolm
    The purpose of the Law Society is to regulate lawyers in the public interest. The regulatory purpose of the articling is to ensure new lawyers develop core competencies before going out to the public. It should not exist to serve some other purpose, such as restricting access to the profession. To date, there is no evidence showing that articling achieves its purpose. The Law Society knows this and even admits so in the Task Force report. And yet the majority recommendation is to keep articling and introduce an eight-month training seminar for those who can't find a job. This does not address the articling crisis or ensure improved competencies.

    The minority report is scathing. It describes articling as "virtually indefensible from a regulatory standpoint" and a violation of "the Law Society's obligation to ensure that every qualified candidate has a fair and equal opportunity to complete the licensing process." The majority should be embarrassed.

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