Amendment aims to offer flexibility to students and their employers amid COVID-19
The benchers of the Law Society of Alberta have confirmed that the required eight to 12-month minimum articling term, approved in April 2020, will stay in place for 2021-2022, with further review to be done by the end of 2021.
This amendment seeks to offer flexibility for students and the firms or organizations employing them, in light of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on articling students, firms and organizations.
The law society recognized that students have reported difficulties when simultaneously managing their responsibilities for articling and for the completion of their bar admission requirement. The law society welcomed the benchers’ decision as timely, given the ongoing planning for the upcoming articling term, as well as students’ and principals’ need for certainty regarding this matter.
The law society then announced that the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education is piloting Accelerated PREP, a 14-week accelerated delivery model of Alberta’s Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP), starting May 31.
The compressed bar admission program, which will be delivered completely online, will include the same content as the standard PREP but will ask students to attend full-time, five days a week for 14 weeks, and to complete the program before commencing their articling term with their principals. The 14-week period will not count as a part of the student’s articling term, so the student should still complete the minimum required articling period of eight months.
The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education considered feedback from students regarding their workloads and developed Accelerated PREP as a way to provide flexibility to students and their employers. The centre chose Alberta for the inaugural pilot because numerous Alberta-based firms also have offices in B.C. and are knowledgeable about the Professional Legal Training Course, which is B.C.’s official full-time bar admission program.
The law society has been working out the details with the centre for how the law society’s subsidy will apply to students taking Accelerated PREP and expects to provide more information once this process has wrapped up. It also continues to gather feedback and data, which will be used to support its review of the April 2020 decision to shorten the articling period.