Law society releases interim articling report

The Law Society of Upper Canada released its interim articling task force report yesterday, finding many in the legal community are vying for the slow modification of legal training.

“The task force heard from anxious students and concerned lawyers that the law society should move quickly to respond to the current shortage of articling placements,” the report notes. “The clear consensus was that, at the very least, students currently enrolled in law school and recent graduates who have not passed through the licensing system should not be left to languish within the law society’s licensing program merely because of a shortage of articling placements. At the same time, numerous submissions urged caution and a gradual, considered approach to any departure from the status quo.”

As part of its consultation process, the task force spoke with members of the province’s legal community from January to April. They discussed articling as it currently stands and five additional training options.

Those five options included maintaining articling as it currently stands; replacing a pre-licensing transition requirement with a post-licensing transition requirement; and abolishing articling in favour of a practical legal training course. There is also the option of maintaining the status quo with quality assurance improvements to be determined at a later date, and a choice of either an articling requirement or a practical legal training course requirement that would be taken either after law school or during law school.

The report found many government and equality-seeking organizations wanted articling to be maintained in some form, but felt a secondary practical legal training course may be a viable option.

Many from that group felt the training course would help law students who find themselves in “licensing limbo” and would provide law students with more control over their career paths.

However, the report says many lawyers were strongly tied to current articling methods in contrast and felt the training course would be costly for students and members of law societies.

For their part, law students suggested creating either a co-op legal program or a practical legal training course within law school that would still give students the option of pursuing a three-year academic law program, the report notes.

Almost none of the feedback suggested keeping articling as it currently stands.

The task force is expected to consider the feedback it received over the upcoming months and will release a full report in the fall of 2012.

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