If you are a lawyer or law student in Ontario, you’ve likely heard something about the debate over the future of the lawyer licensing process in this province. What is the best way to vet future lawyers? The Law Society of Upper Canada ("LSUC") wants to find out, and they want to know what you think too.
Articling vs. LPP vs. Neither
More students than articling positions resulted in the creation of the Law Practice Program (the “LPP”) in 2014, an alternative to articling based on four months of coursework and a four month placement. You may recall there was significant backlash in November 2016 when a committee recommended shutting down the LPP program after only two years. This backlash prompted the committee to issue a new report recommending that the LPP remain for at least two more years, and the benchers agreed.
Subsequently, the LSUC’s governing body approved embarking on a comprehensive review of the lawyer licensing process in Ontario. Lawyers have varying opinions on this topic. There are arguments that articling itself is racist. Some believe that the participants in the LPP program will carry a stigma throughout their careers. Many are adamant that articling is a waste of time, and should be abolished altogether, but that the difficulty of the bar exams should be increased. The LSUC wants to engage with the profession on this topic: they want a “Dialogue on Licensing”.
What is the Dialogue on Licensing? It will be a “series of facilitated in-person and webcast group discussions” and extensive consultations from April until June 2017. They want to formulate “long-term recommendations for an appropriate, sustainable lawyer licensing system in Ontario”.
So, you have an opinion, what can you do? You can subscribe to the mailing list and you can register for a discussion group near you. Each discussion group will focus on one of the four following topics:
Topic 1: The Need For Change
Topic 2: Market Dynamics and the Lawyer Profession
Topic 3: Licensing Examinations: Assessment of Entry-level Competence
Topic 4: Transitional Training
The dates, times, and places for each of these discussion groups can be found on the website as well as reference material to provide background information.
Don’t feel like participating in a discussion but have an opinion? You can make a written submission. The deadline for written submissions is August 1, 2017.
I encourage you to review the website for more information on this Dialogue. This is an important topic for all lawyers, not just those hoping to become a part of this profession.