The Law Society of Upper Canada will require articling principals to complete a feedback form on law students’ performance starting this July.
The online feedback form sets out expectations for students who choose the articling stream. The expectations mirror the ones required of students who complete the law practice program.
The feedback form, dubbed the record of experiential training, requires both students and their articling principals to answer questions related to required skills such as interviewing, research, advocacy, legal writing, ethics, negotiation, and transactional matters.
Principals are also required to assess students’ performance on five assigned tasks:
— Interviewing a client.
— Drafting a legal opinion.
— Representing a client in an appearance or through some form of alternative dispute resolution or settlement process.
— Professional responsibility assessment (based on making “reasoned decisions” on ethical issues).
— Using law firm or legal practice management systems.
The new guidelines “enhance articling by ensuring a consistency for all licensing candidates, establishing benchmarks for experiential training, and tracking the success of the articling experience against those benchmarks,” says LSUC spokesman Roy Thomas.
Currently, the law society doesn’t gather information about what law students learn from their articling experience or how it prepares them for a career in law.
“The experiential training competencies reflect the necessary skills, knowledge, and tasks for entry to the profession,” according to the law society. “These skills competencies form the basis of the learning that both the articling program and the law practice program are expected to fulfill.”
Before phasing it out in 2009, the LSUC used to require lawyers who hire students to complete performance-based evaluations of their students-at-law. It cancelled that requirement due to concerns that lawyers found the evaluations daunting and would be less willing to take on students who had limited articling opportunities.
That concern came up again in October when Convocation decided to design another articling evaluation system.
“That is less of a concern now because we know we will have the LPP and if there are principals who simply decline to participate in this kind of evaluation system, there is an alternative,” Bencher Janet Minor said at the time.