The Law Society of Upper Canada’s licensing and accreditation task force released a consultation report in June. It’s an interim report providing four options for the future of licensing lawyers in Ontario. The task force was spawned from the fear of having too many law students and no place to put them. Students without articles tend to end up on the doorsteps of the law society asking for (or in some cases, demanding) help. The simplest option is to make it clear from the very beginning that there are no guarantees in life — if you can’t find an articling position, at least you knew that up front before you racked up a student loan and maxed out your credit line on an education. At the other end of the spectrum is abolishing articles altogether — a fairly drastic step, but one that works in other jurisdictions. Needless to say, the final report will be a very interesting read (it’s set to be released sometime in the fall).
All this talk of how to get the title of “lawyer” got us thinking about the bar admission process in general. Most provinces use a fairly standard method of an exam-based course along with an articling term. Things are a bit different in the West. Our cover story, “Evaluating CPLED,” (page 16) takes a look at how the program operates and whether it’s been working out. I have to say, it seems to be a bit burdensome on students to expect them to manage a full-time career while trying to complete assignments on the side for eight months. Nevertheless, those running the program are optimistic; consultations are taking place and changes are being implemented to make up for some of the criticism.
Many of you are just starting your first year of law school. I was in the same boat three years ago, so I understand what you’re going through. (Keep an eye out for an upcoming feature on alternative careers in the legal profession.) My main advice to you would be: make good friends, keep your focus high, and give it your all — but have a life outside the legal world. The contacts you make may prove more valuable than the grades you receive, so don’t beat yourself up over your first C. If you want some input from the real professionals though, have a look at our “Tips from the top” (page 13) story.
Anyone who’s been in a law school classroom will have thoughts on laptops. Since my keyboarding skills are much more refined than my handwriting, I cringed when I read about some American law schools banning them from lecture halls. Canadian Lawyer 4Students spoke with professors and students here to see how they are managing the issue. I know that many of my peers were typing away on their resumés and cover letters during the less interactive courses. If you’re one of those people, and trying to find a few ways to bulk up your accomplishments, be sure to read our feature on the benefits of enrolling in a competitive moot (“A moot point,” page 29).
This publication is for you and about you. To keep it relevant, I need to hear from you. Feedback is always welcome, as are story ideas and information on upcoming events and accomplishments. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with anything you’d like to share. We’re also expanding our web content, so be sure to check it out at www.canadianlawyermag.com/4students for weekly updates.
Jeffrey H. Waugh, LLB